Nations did just that earlier this month when he signed a football scholarship to attend Shorter College in Rome.
"I'm excited," he said, admitting that the idea of playing college football has since sunk in.
Nations said he's started a lifting program that Shorter coaches recommended. He works out with a handful of former Tigers, who now attend the Southern Baptist college.
Before selecting Shorter, Nations said he considered a Tennessee college.
"I was interested in Maryville College, but a couple of visits to Shorter won me over because it's a small college ... a good Christian college," he said, adding that knowing some former Adairsville players helped, too.
Tigers' coach Jim Kremer thinks the future Hawk will adjust nicely to his new surroundings.
"I think he'll be a great fit for Shorter," Kremer said. "Before he gets out of there, he will have (made) an impact at Shorter. ... He'll be the type of kid that won't ever quit."
It was that kind of impact that Kremer and his team missed last season after Nations went down about halfway through the season with a broken ankle.
"Eli was our starting free safety, and he was our backup quarterback," Kremer said. "Certainly when Eli went down, it hurt us. ... He had about 35 tackles and he was (the) quarterback for our defense."
The Tigers, who were 4-2 when Nations got hurt, finished the season with a 5-5 record, losing some games in the fourth quarter along the way.
"It was hard," Nations said regarding last season's ending. "You work four years for the moment of senior year and you try to get to the playoffs and you find out you get cut short."
"(To get to play in college), it's really a good feeling, a blessing," he continued.
Nations said he did calf exercises and lower body exercises to strengthen his ankle following the injury. He also ran hills as part of his effort to rehabilitate from the injury.
The senior thinks his dedication to getting healthy helped him earn a college scholarship.
"I guess coach (Kremer) saw the hard work and got the word out," Nations said.
"I think he would have signed a lot earlier if he didn't (get injured)," Kremer acknowledged. "He's a good option-type quarterback, and we felt real good about him and (starter) Tyree (Brown).
"Eli would've started for a lot of teams."
At Shorter, Kremer thinks the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Nations could get a chance to play some QB.
"Eli's a high-character kid. He exemplifies all the things we talk about," he said. "Eli's a team player. ... He'll be the type of kid that won't ever quit.
"He's a very intelligent kid. He comes from a very good family."
Nations said he's looking forward to getting an education -- he plans to major in business -- meeting new teammates and playing against tougher competition.
However, he won't forget his time at Adairsville or the senior class he is set to graduate with, which includes players who've signed softball, baseball, basketball and soccer scholarships along with football.
"I'll never forget the life, coming out and playing in front of 2,000 to 3,000 people on Friday night, even on the road." said Nations, the seventh Tiger football player to sign a college scholarship. "It's a blessing to be part of an athletic class that's so athletically gifted ... everybody's leaving (to go somewhere) and I'm just glad I'm part of it.
"You'll never forget the friendships you make by playing sports."
Nations, who dealt with three coaching changes during his career, said this regarding what he learned from his prep playing days: "If you work as hard as you can ... and (are) part of a good team, you can go anywhere."