Mark Nelson is in his second season as Kentucky?s special teams coordinator and he will coach the defensive ends this season after handling the tight ends a year ago.
Upon being named head coach of the Wildcats in Feb. 2001, one of Guy Morriss? top priorities was bringing Nelson to Lexington as part of the UK coaching staff. Nelson?s coaching expertise was quickly expressed.
One of the bright spots of the 2001 season was the general improvement in special teams play as two Wildcats were named first-team All-Southeastern Conference. Punter Glenn Pakulak led the SEC in that department and Derek Abney was recognized as an all-purpose player for his performance as a wide receiver, punt returner, and kickoff returner.
In addition to coaching the special teams again, Nelson has a major challenge in 2002 as he takes over the Wildcat defensive ends. Both starters are gone from last season, leaving Nelson with only one player with SEC game experience.
Nelson coached in the CFL from 1992-96. He was with the Edmonton Eskimos from 1992-94 as special teams coordinator, linebackers coach (?92), and running backs coach (?93-?94). Edmonton won the 1993 Grey Cup championship and Nelson was named CFL Special Teams Coach of the Year.
Nelson became acquainted with Morriss when they coached together with the CFL?s San Antonio Texans in 1995. Nelson was the linebackers coach and San Antonio was a conference finalist. Nelson won another Grey Cup championship in 1996 as defensive line coach for the Toronto Argonauts.
After leaving the CFL, Nelson was defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for three seasons at Valdosta State University. His 1997 defense led the Gulf South Conference in rushing defense and total defense. His 1998 unit led the conference in passing defense and was second in total defense.
Nelson coached at Arkansas Tech in the 2000 season as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. Tech went 7-3, including a win over Delta State, the only loss suffered by the eventual NCAA Division II national champion.
A native of Edmonton, Nelson was an NAIA All-American during his collegiate playing career at East Central Oklahoma State University. He played seven seasons in the CFL as a linebacker and fullback with Calgary (1980-85) and Saskatchewan (1986).
Nelson began his coaching career in 1986 at Choctaw High School in Edmond, Oklahoma. He entered the junior college ranks with Independence (Kan.) Community College. He was an assistant coach from 1987-89, then was promoted to head coach for the 1990 and 1991 seasons. ICC played in the 1987 Dixie Rotary Bowl. He left ICC in 1992 for Edmonton of the CFL.
Nelson and his wife, Lori, have three children, sons Kyle and Kolton and daughter Kayli.
Nelson?s Coaching and Pro Playing Experience
Year School/Team Position 1980-85 Calgary (CFL) Linebacker, Fullback 1986 Saskatchewan (CFL) Linebacker, Fullback 1987-89 Independence Comm. College Assistant Coach, one bowl game 1990-91 Independence Comm. College Head Coach 1992-94 Edmonton (CFL) Assistant Coach (Special Teams, Linebackers, Running Backs), Grey Cup champion 1995 San Antonio (CFL) Assistant Coach (Linebackers), conference finalist 1996 Toronto (CFL) Assistant Coach (Defensive Line), Grey Cup champion 1997-99 Valdosta State Assistant Head Coach (Defensive Coordinator) 2000 Arkansas Tech Assistant Coach (Defensive Coordinator, Defensive Backs) 2001 Kentucky Assistant Coach (Special Teams Coordinator, Tight Ends) 2002 Kentucky Assistant Coach (Special Teams Coordinator, Defensive Ends)