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Journey led Nelson to Power

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, March 6, 2014, 10:43 p.m.
Power backup quarterback Arvell Nelson drops back during passing drills at the team's practice Thursday March 6, 2014, at the Southpointe Fieldhouse.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Power backup quarterback Arvell Nelson drops back during passing drills at the team's practice Thursday March 6, 2014, at the Southpointe Fieldhouse.

Arvell Nelson admits the life of an indoor football player can test a man's resolve.

“It's tough at times, as far as financially, trying to stick in there,” he said. “At the same time, my love for the game keeps me pushing.”

Nelson, 25, attended three colleges and played for two indoor teams before joining the Power this season after requesting a trade from the Spokane Shock. He doesn't care that the Power was 4-14 last year; he hopes he has found a home in Pittsburgh.

“It doesn't matter what the previous year was,” he said. “I'm here to win now.”

Power coach Derek Stingley will give the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Nelson, opportunities in every aspect of the game. He will back up starting quarterback Tommy Grady, and line up at wide receiver and linebacker.

He also will cover kicks and block in the return game.

“I won't let anyone touch Virgil (Gray, returner),” Nelson said.

Then, to keep busy, he can snap or hold for kicker Julian Rauch.

“A lot of times a backup quarterback just hangs out and sits on the bench,” Grady said. “But Arvell is valuable.”

Stingley traded popular and productive wide receiver Mike Washington to Spokane for Nelson and offensive lineman Ben Ossai.

“We gave up a special guy,” Stingley said of Washington, an Aliquippa native who was one of the few Western Pennsylvania players on a Power roster that now has none. “But we got a lot in return.”

The Power also netted wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez after sending Ossai to Orlando.

“We understood what Mike meant to the organization and the fans of the Pittsburgh Power,” Stingley said. “We wanted to keep Mike in that equation.”

But after three non-playoff seasons in Pittsburgh, Stingley said Washington expressed a desire to play elsewhere. A market quickly developed.

Meanwhile, Nelson wanted to be closer to his son Arvell Jr., 6, who lives in Cleveland.

The Power offers stability for Nelson, who was recruited from Glenville (Ohio) High School in 2006 to play quarterback at Iowa. He was dismissed from the team in 2008 after a drug arrest, but he said he has put his problems behind him.

“I had to grow up,” he said.

After leaving Iowa, Nelson spent one year at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College before transferring to Texas Southern for his final two collegiate seasons. He joined the Alabama Hammers of the Professional Indoor Football League before landing in Spokane last year.

With the Shock, he was responsible for 15 touchdowns: five passing, four rushing and six receiving.

Nelson has become a leader for the Power, pushing teammates during drills.

“That's just my personality,” said Nelson, who was one of eight siblings growing up together in Cleveland.

“His attitude is infectious to the point where we need that to rub off on the other guys,” Stingley said.

He has received little attention from outdoor teams, but he hasn't lost hope.

“It's tough, but at the same time, I keep looking,” he said. “Hopefully, somebody will see me and like me.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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