Elite Prospects

QB Kato Nelson Signs with the Panthers

December 19, 2022 – Indoor Football League (IFL) – Bay Area Panthers News Release

After taking over the starting quarterback position his redshirt freshman season and leading Akron to the MAC Championship game, Kato Nelson was on the same trajectory as other great quarterbacks from the conference to take their game to the next level.

Nelson is eager to show the world the kind of player he can be after signing with the Bay Area Panthers.

“Coach Keefe sold me on the staff that has won pretty much wherever they go,” said Nelson. “That’s a lot of rings.”

Success and the staff’s connections with the XFL, USFL and NFL made Bay Area the perfect fit for Nelson who has healed from injuries the temporarily derailed a promising career.

At Akron, Nelson made an immediate impact, making five starts his freshman year in 2017 on the way to a MAC East title. In his second start, he completed 22 of 38 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns leading the Zips to a 37-34 win over Ohio.

Nelson threw for pair of scores in the MAC Championship game as his star was rising.

“That was a goal of mine after I had been committed to Akron my entire senior year,” said Nelson. “After my visit and watching the spring game, I felt I could go in there and compete right away.”

He made 11 starts as a sophomore, throwing for 2,329 yards and 15 touchdowns. The scoring passes ranked sixth on UA’s single-season list. In the upset win at Northwestern, Nelson went 17-28 for 277 yards and two scores. He went on to win the team’s offensive MVP award.

In 2019, Nelson was named to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch List, starting 10 games and tied a school record for lowest percentage of passes intercepted. He continued to climb the charts despite playing the last seven games with a shoulder injury that cut out practice time to keep him available to play on weekends.

The injury never healed, requiring surgery in 2020. That was only part of his medical record that included three meniscus tears.

“I feel like the injuries kind of killed my career. You could say I had a lot of work done,” said Nelson.

Bad luck struck again with a leg injury early in 2021 that put him on the sideline. He tried to come back wearing a brace against Bowling Green in Week 6.

“We were down going into the half. I scrambled to my right and threw a comeback and took a shot to my head that led to a concussion,” said Nelson. “That put me out three more weeks. That’s kind of how my senior year went.”

Despite the setbacks, Nelson still left Akron in the school’s top-five in both passing yards and total offense.

Nelson’s body and mind have healed as he embraces the challenge of starting his pro career.

“I used my family as motivation…I just want to put them in a better place,” said Nelson. “Personally, I feel like I could get through it and still play at highest level I can.”

As the oldest of six siblings, Nelson is used to seeing others are taken care of. As a player, he’s ready to take care of the offense and put his teammates in the best positions to be successful.

“I’m just a playmaker and I have the ability to lead guys,” said Nelson. “I’m a pass first guy that can run the ball effectively. From that standpoint, I bring a dual ability to the team and make plays.”

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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