Philip Nelson spent two years playing quarterback for the Gophers. Now, he could look forward to facing them in 2016, on their home field, under center for another Big Ten team.
Two weeks after announcing he was transferring from Minnesota, Nelson picked Rutgers as his new school Wednesday, knowing the Scarlet Knights will be joining the Big Ten this year.
Nelson has to sit out next season, under NCAA transfer rules, but he can redshirt and still will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Normally, when an athlete transfers within the Big Ten, he has to sit out a year as well as forfeit a year of eligibility. but that won’t apply to Rutgers until after it officially joins the conference July 1.
The Gophers aren’t slated to face Rutgers until Oct. 22, 2016, at TCF Bank Stadium. By then, Nelson would be a fifth-year senior.
“I just found out about that [game against the Gophers] today because somebody brought that up,” Nelson’s father, Pat, said Wednesday. “Nobody’s really been looking at the schedule. Philip’s been really concentrating more on trying to get through this process.”
Pat Nelson said his son also considered Kansas State, Texas Tech, San Jose State and San Diego State. Philip Nelson will begin classes at Rutgers on Friday and will be eligible to take part in spring practice.
Philip Nelson could not be reached for comment, but in his statement announcing his transfer Jan. 16, he said he was looking for an offense that “centers more around the pass game.”
Nelson started 16 games in two years for the Gophers and led them to their first four-game Big Ten winning streak since 1973 last fall.
But in two years, he completed only 50 percent of his passes, and he shared time last season with Mitch Leidner, who has three years of eligibility remaining.
Rutgers will have a senior at quarterback next season, in Gary Nova, and Nelson will be a candidate to start in 2015.
“Rutgers certainly fit the bill really well for Philip,” Pat Nelson said. “And also, Ralph Friedgen — it looks like he’s going to be coming on board [as offensive coordinator]. He’s in a real good situation there with a mentor who really understands the pro-style offense.”
Pat Nelson said Gophers coach Jerry Kill placed no restrictions on where his son could go and offered to make calls on his behalf.