Graves County High School 2017 graduate Levi Nesler joined the Murray State University Racers football team as a walk-on, turned that opportunity into a full-ride scholarship, and now has transformed it all into joining six of his MSU teammates on the 2018 Phil Steele Football Championship Subdivision Freshman All-America second team.
“When I came out of Graves County High School, they offered me a preferred walk-on spot at Murray State,” he said recently. “That’s where I really wanted to go. I really wanted to go there first of all because I wanted to be in the agriculture department. We have a family farm and that’s what I perceive to be the rest of my career.
“I got to playing football and I loved it,” the 6-foot 1-inch, 291-pound redshirt freshman continued. “I kept just working hard and then this past summer, we went to camp. About two weeks into it, I was still a walk-on and that’s when (MSU head coach Mitch) Stewart made a speech and they videoed it. They called my mom and told her I was going to get a full scholarship. It was just awesome how that worked out the way it did.”
Transition from high school to college had more than one meaning for Nesler. “At Graves, I was one of the bigger players, so I played offensive left tackle. Then, when I go over there (to MSU I realize) I’m one of the smaller ones on the offensive line. So, I was moved to center and I enjoy it a lot now. It was a big change, snapping the ball to the quarterback. It gets kind of hard in pressure situations, but for the most part it has been going pretty well.”
Nesler continued, “Now, I’ve gotten this freshman All-American award. Any award is an honor to get… I’m not done yet, I want to keep working hard for my team, so that we can win the OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) championship.”
He concluded, “My main goal right now is to show up every day and work as hard as possible, work hard in the classroom, then graduate, and to find a good job – whatever the next step in my life is going to be. There’s no real secret – just show up and work hard and good things will happen.”
Nesler, the son of Jody and Beth Nesler, was the starting center for every MSU game in 2018. He contributed to the Racers 5-3 OVC record as well as to its first winning conference record since 2011. The Racers’ offense ranked 20th in the country in passing offense (274.1 yards/game) and finished 59th in scoring offense (27.9 points/game).
OVC Players on 2018 Phil Steele FCS Freshman All-American Team
KR - Zion Custis, Southeast Missouri (1st)
OL - Levi Nesler, Murray State (2nd)
DB - Yul Gowdy, Jacksonville State (2nd)
DB - Edwyn Brown, Eastern Illinois (2nd)
P - Steve Dawson, Murray State (2nd)
OL - Eliki Tanuvasa, Eastern Illinois (3rd)
K - Antonio Zita, Tennessee State (3rd)