QB Nelson transfers to Rutgers, could play Gophers in ’16

Philip Nelson will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2014 season.

Mike Carter/Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson is staying in the Big Ten.

Nelson will transfer to Rutgers, meaning the Mankato native and former Gatorade Minnesota Player of the Year could face his old team in a few years. It was announced earlier this month that Nelson was leaving the Gophers program and wanted to find a system that better fit his skillset.

In Nelson’s mind, Big Ten newcomer Rutgers is a good fit.

"The coaching staff and the system and really the players, everything kind of fit really well for me and really made me feel like home again," Nelson told NJ.com. "I feel like this system is one that I can be successful in and help this team move forward."

Nelson was viewed as perhaps the biggest recruit for Gophers coach Jerry Kill in the 2012 recruiting class. He eventually made seven starts as a true freshman and split time under center in 2013 with redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner. As a sophomore this year, Nelson was 94-for-186 for 1,306 yards and nine touchdowns while also rushing for 364 yards.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Nelson will have to sit out the 2014 season, meaning he will continue as a redshirt junior in 2015. If Nelson stays for his senior season, he’ll return to Minnesota in 2016 when Rutgers plays the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium on Oct. 22.

Both Rutgers and Maryland will officially join the Big Ten Conference for the 2014 season. Nelson will be coached by Scarlet Knights head coach Kyle Flood, and there are reports that Rutgers could also hire former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen as the offensive coordinator.

"It’s going to be very exciting," Nelson told NJ.com. "I understand that I’m not going to be able to play in the fall so I might not get as many reps as everybody else, but I’m just very thankful for the opportunity coach Flood presented."

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