Nielsen, who was the University of Southern California's best defensive lineman in 1999, but was slowed by injuries in 2000, returned as a key member of USC's defense in 2001. Named Pac 10 honorable mention for the second time in his college career (1999), Nielsen was also invited to play in two postseason all-star games, the Hula Bowl (four tackles, two hurries, and three QB knockdowns) and the Paradise Bowl (three sacks and two tackles), where he impressed NFL scouts.
Although not selected in the 2002 NFL Draft, he was signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles and was on their spring roster. On August 17, in the Eagles' second pre-season game, Nielsen registered one tackle and one assisted tackle in a 16-15 loss to New England. On August 25, 2002, Nielsen was released by the Eagles,
Birth and Death Dates:
b. March 20, 1979
A three-sport star in high school (football, basketball, and baseball), Ryan redshirted his first year at USC in 1997. In 1998, he started the season opener against Purdue (a 27-17 Trojan victory) and then played the rest of the year as a backup. He appeared in nine regular season games for USC, who had a record of 8-4-0. In the Sun Bowl, Nielsen registered a season-high five tackles (including one for a loss) in the Trojans' 28-19 loss to TCU.
In 1999, Nielsen became USC's best defensive lineman, starting in all but one game. He registered a career-high nine tackles in USC's 33-30 loss to Oregon. Although the Trojans finished the season with a record of 6-6-0, Ryan had 39 tackles (seventh on the team), including six for losses (three sacks) and was named All-Pac 10 honorable mention. He was also named USC's Defensive Lineman of the Year and coach Paul Hackett said after the season: "I can't say enough about Ryan and the job he did last year. He really was our top defensive lineman in 1999, certainly our most consistent."
Following the 2000 spring practice, Ryan had surgery to repair a torn right biceps tendon and an abdominal hernia. Whether this slowed him down during the 2000 season is difficult to tell, but he did not match the previous year's statistics. Nielsen still finished fourteenth on the team with 25 tackles, including three for losses. He also had four pass deflections and one forced fumble as the Trojans posted a disappointing 5-7-0 record.
In 2001, the Trojans finished the regular season 6-5 (5-3 in conference). Ryan played in 10 of 11 games and was 11th on the team with 28 tackles (15 solo and 13 assisted); he added three sacks, and one fumble recovery. USC played Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Day and lost the game, 10-6.
Los Angeles, California
Nielsen played defensive tackle at USC from 1998-2001 and played two pre-season games in 2002 for the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL.
6'5", 275 pounds
At USC (through 2000 season):
Tackles for losses: 10
Use links below to navigate through the football section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Vol. 2, No. 8, Issue 21)