Will QB Philip Nelson Make a Difference for His New Big Ten Team?

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IJanuary 30, 2014

FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2013, file photo, Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson drops back for a pass during an NCAA college football game against Nebraska in Minneapolis. Nelson and his Minnesota teammates face Syracuse in the Texas Bowl on Friday, Dec. 27, in Houston. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File)
Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

Philip Nelson should be very familiar with his new home; it will look a lot like his old one. That's because the former Minnesota quarterback will be staying in the Big Ten, deciding to transfer to Rutgers according to Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com:

When he announced his transfer, most assumed the Big Ten was out of the picture, and that's because doing so would've given the junior-to-be just one year of eligibility. Yet, Nelson's new home gives him the best of both worlds. 

Nelson found a way to stay inside the Big Ten and not lose a year of eligibility as well, and that's because he is transferring to Rutgers immediately.

It means the former University of Minnesota quarterback is technically transferring to a school that is not a Big Ten institution. Rutgers won't join the conference officially until July 1, 2014, and by that time Nelson would've had a full semester as a student there. 

Clever timing aside, Nelson comes in to a very interesting situation at quarterback for the Scarlet Knights. 

According to Tom Luicci of The Star-Ledger, former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen is set to become the newest offensive coordinator. That means a very large focus on the passing game, something Nelson was looking for in a new home.

"For me, I am looking to play in a system that centers more around the pass game which utilizes my skill sets," said Nelson in a statement via Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I am excited to go out and meet with programs that match up with my talents." 

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 16: Gary Nova #10 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights throws a pass during the first half of a game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Cincinnati defeated Ru
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

However, just because the school will get even more pass-orientated than it has been in the past, Nelson isn't jumping in to a ready-made situation for him to start following this season, which he must sit out anyway.  

Senior Gary Nova (who made 10 starts last year) returns for another year at the helm this year. It was a rocky season for Nova in 2013, as he completed 54.5 percent of his passes for 2,159 yards, 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

There's also the matter of two youngsters already on the roster in redshirt sophomore Blake Rankin and true sophomore Chris Laviano, who are expected to be challengers for Nova in the spring. 

Should either one win that job and perform well, Nelson could be in some serious trouble to gain traction as a starter in 2015 or beyond. 

Additionally, Rutgers just added a 247sports composite 3-star quarterback, Giovanni Rescigno. This after losing the commitment of 4-star quarterback Tyler Wiegers earlier in the recruiting cycle. 

Rescigno comes from the same high school as Michigan quarterback Shane Morris—De La Salle Collegiate in Warren, Mich.

Nelson clearly won't be the only quarterback in the mix in the future, and that's where one other piece of news comes in handy—Nelson has his redshirt year still available.

So, he has three years to use his final two years of eligibility. He'd be wise to use that redshirt during the 2015 season should he not win the starting job, taking time to work on his craft and learn Friedgen's offense. 

Given that Nelson didn't show much in the pass game as a Gopher—completing just 49.9 percent of his passes for 2,179 yards and 17 touchdowns to 14 interceptions in his two years in Minneapolis—it would be a wise decision to help his chances in the future. 

Having Friedgen in the fold will also help his development as a passer; after all, he's worked with the likes of Stan Gelbaugh, Frank Reich and Boomer Esiason just to name a few. 

However, given Nelson's stats in two years, there's a lot of work that needs to be done for him to be an adequate passer, let alone one that command the offense. 

Nelson may be back in the Big Ten, but it's far from certain the ex-Gopher will ever be a starter again. If it happens for him, it will be because he earned it and not out of a perceived need for just anyone with experience at quarterback. 

*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @andycoppens.


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