During his senior season, Nelson was second on the team with 53 receptions to go along with 557 yards and three catches for scores. He enjoyed a pair of 100-plus receiving yard games at Auburn (118 yards with two TDs) and at Arkansas State (110 yards) in consecutive contests.
Nelson was an All-Conference USA performer all four seasons during his time at Southern Miss including a first-team selection during both the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Over his four years, the Golden Eagles captured a 28-22 record and participated in four postseason bowl appearances, winning in three of those games. During his freshman campaign, Nelson was named the New Orleans Bowl most valuable player on the strength of six catches for 121 yards and two touchdown catches. Southern Miss won that contest 31-19 over Arkansas State.
Nelson was the 121st overall pick in the draft and is the first Golden Eagle selected since Robert Henderson was the lone selection last season. Henderson was taken in the sixth round by the New York Giants. Nelson also was the first selection of a Southern Miss player since they chose Eric Smith in the 6th round of the 1978 draft.