Nelson announced his decision on Twitter - "Proud to be a Hawkeye!"
"It was just a gut feeling," Nelson said of his decision. "It just felt perfect for me. I just loved everything about it."
Nelson trimmed his list to that trio earlier in the month then visited each school. Arkansas , Florida State, Iowa State, Nebraska, San Diego State, Wisconsin and Yale also offered a scholarship to the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder.
"I kind of had an idea that Iowa was going to win even before I went out to Stanford," Nelson said. "It was just really made clear after getting back that Iowa was the place for me. A combination of everything made it stick out."
While Nelson said closeness to home was not the deciding factor in his decision, friends and family being able to see his home games with a short drive down the interstate was an added bonus.
"That's a cool thing to be able to see family and friends up in the stands," Nelson said.
Scout.com rates Nelson as the 35th-best defensive end in the country for the 2014 class. The service lists him as a three-star prospect on its five-star scale.
Nelson bloomed late in football after establishing himself on the basketball court. In January, he still was waiting for his first scholarship offer on the gridiron while he held opportunities from Rice, Northern Colorado, North Dakota and South Dakota State in hoops at that time.
Nelson became the ninth known verbal commitment in Iowa's '14 group. The Hawkeyes have hauled in five of the Top 6 in-state prospects - Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls), Jay Scheel (Union), Lucas LeGrand (Dubuque Senior) and Keegan Render (Indianola). Urbandale's Allen Lazard chose Iowa State.
Iowa went without a commitment from April to June. The Hawkeyes have landed six prospects this month.
Defensive end has been a position of need in the last few recruiting classes. Iowa was shut out last year and only landed Drew Ott at the spot two years ago (Nate Meier has since been moved there). Nelson is the school's first DE in '14.
Nelson's parents attended Iowa State and his brother is a current student there. Matt said he rooted for the Cyclones until he was in junior high.
"They weren't really trying to sway me towards Iowa State," Nelson said. "They were supportive in whatever I wanted to do."
It's a common practice for verbally committed players to assist in recruiting efforts. They often connect on social media.
"If the coaches want me to, I can," the low-key Nelson said. "It's not like I'm going to seek out and try to sway people. People stayed out of mine and it made me feel more comfortable with just the coaches and not other people trying to pressure me."