University of Florida junior free safety Reggie Nelson (Melbourne, Fla.) has been named to the Football Writers’ Association of America’s 2006 All-America team, the organization announced on Saturday. He is the 18th FWAA All-American in school history, and the Gators’ first since defensive end Alex Brown, wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and quarterback Rex Grossman all earned the honor in 2001.
Nelson stands sixth among UF players with 50 tackles, including 34 solo efforts, and his six interceptions rank third in the Southeastern Conference; he has also returned 12 punts for 93 yards (7.8 yards per return), in addition to blocking a pair of opponent punt attempts. Nelson collected the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award after Florida’s win over Alabama on Sept. 30, during which he made five tackles, returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown, recovered a fumble and broke up a pass. In October, the Melbourne, Fla., native took captured the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Defensive Player of the Half-Year honors, in addition to receiving a nod to CBS Sportsline’s Halfway All-America team, and he received first-team All-America recognition from Rivals.com in November. Earlier this week, Nelson was named a first-team All-SEC performer by both the league’s coaches and the Associated Press.
Second-ranked Florida will take to the field again on Jan. 8, 2007, when it will meet Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. UF’s appearance in the BCS National Championship Game will mark the third time in school history that it has entered a bowl game with a chance to win the national title. The Gators claimed the 1996 NCAA crown with a 52-20 victory over top-ranked Florida State in the Sugar Bowl behind a three-touchdown, 306-yard performance from Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. The Gators also played for the national championship in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl after posting a 12-0 regular-season record.