Philip Nelson
refer to caption
Nelson passes at Minnesota's 2013 Spring Game
No. 9 – San Diego Fleet
Personal information
Born: (1993-09-11) September 11, 1993 (age 26)
Madison, Wisconsin
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:222 lb (101 kg)
Career information
High school:Mankato (MN) West
College:East Carolina
Career history
* Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2018)*
Roster status:Injured reserve
Career highlights and awards
* Minnesota Mr. Football (2011)

Philip Nelson (born September 11, 1993) was an American football quarterback for the San Diego Fleet for the now defunct Alliance of American Football (AAF).

Following a successful high school career, Nelson committed to the University of Minnesota. After two seasons as a Golden Gopher, Nelson transferred to Rutgers for a more pass-heavy offensive attack. However, before Nelson started with Rutgers, he pleaded guilty to a fifth degree misdemeanor for his actions in a fight outside of a Mankato, Minnesota bar on Sunday, May 11, 2014, in which a man was left with permanent brain damage. He was dismissed from the Rutgers football program on the following Tuesday.[1]

Nelson was two years removed from his last football game when he enrolled at East Carolina as a senior in the hopes of a spot on the football team. After spring football training camp, Nelson received the starting quarterback position for the Pirates.[2] In his only season at East Carolina, Nelson posted career numbers for completions, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, and passer rating. Though the Pirates only went 3–7 with Nelson under center, the team did win a rivalry game against NC State 33–30.[3] Shortly after graduating from East Carolina, Nelson attended the Winnipeg Blue Bombers spring mini-camp but was cut before main training camp.

Early yearsEdit

Nelson attended Mankato West High School in Mankato, Minnesota. There he was a standout member of the football team, setting several state records on his way to winning the 2011 Minnesota Mr. Football Award.[4] He is the son of Pat and Norma Nelson.

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Philip Nelson
Mankato, Minnesota Mankato West High School 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 213 lb (97 kg) 4.48 Feb 19, 2011 
Scout:3/5 stars   Rivals:3/5 stars   ESPN grade: 74
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 46 (QB)   Rivals: 15 (QB), 2 (MN)  ESPN: 94 (QB), 188 (Regional), 7 (MN)
  • Note: In many cases, Scout and Rivals may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, an average of the two was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


Nelson began to receive attention from Football Bowl Subdivision scouts during his junior year in high school. It was originally perceived that Nelson would be a very sought-after recruit during his senior year by numerous Big Ten schools and was highly regarded by recruiting expert Tom Lemming.[5] Nelson conducted initial visits to a handful of schools to include Iowa State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.[6]

Upon visiting Minnesota in December 2010, Nelson received his first scholarship offer from Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill. Nelson committed to Minnesota on February 19, 2011.[7][8]

College careerEdit

On October 20, 2012, Nelson's red shirt was pulled after struggling starter MarQuise Gray[9] was injured the week before. Nelson's first game of his collegiate career came against the Wisconsin Badgers.[10] The Gophers lost the game but Nelson passed for two touchdowns and was also the Gophers' leading rusher in the game. Nelson started the final seven games as a true freshman at Minnesota going 2–5 and the Gophers were invited to a bowl game for the first time since 2009. They lost in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas to Texas Tech 34–31 on December 28, 2012.[11]

In Nelson's sophomore season, he endured peaks and valleys as the starting quarterback. He played in 12 games and led the Gophers to a 4–0 record at the beginning of the season. A hamstring injury against Iowa hampered Nelson's ability to be effective against the Hawkeyes. The Gophers lost 23–7.[12] The next week against Michigan, back up quarterback Mitch Leidner took most of the reps but the Gophers were dismantled 42–13. Now on a losing streak and with ailing coach Jerry Kill watching from a private box, the Gophers hoped to get back on track against Northwestern. Leidner was replaced by a healthy Nelson in the first half of that game and the Gophers hung on for a 20–17 victory.[13] Nelson would start the next four games and lead the Gophers to three signature victories over No. 24 ranked Nebraska,[14] Indiana, and Penn State. The last two games of the season saw Nelson and Leidner split snaps as the team lost to Michigan State and then Syracuse in the Texas Bowl on December 28, 2013.[15]

On January 16, 2014, after a trying season, uncertainty at the starting quarterback position, and with Kill dealing with numerous epilepsy episodes, Nelson announced he was transferring from Minnesota; he would still have two years to play for a new team.[16] On January 29, 2014 Nelson transferred to Rutgers. On May 13, 2014, he was dismissed from Rutgers[17] following assault charges leading to a guilty plea for a fifth degree misdemeanor.

In August 2015, Nelson walked on at East Carolina.[18] After winning the starting quarterback job, Nelson and the Pirates started the season 2–0 with wins against in-state rivals, Western Carolina and NC State. Nelson threw a combined six touchdown passes and ran for one score in those two matchups. However, following a close loss with South Carolina the next week, the ECU squad would only win one more game the rest of the season.

After the season came to a close, Nelson was invited to participate in the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Senior stand-outs and NFL hopefuls that had recently completed their FBS career were invited to this bowl game that also included training on the business side of being a professional athlete and other briefings from the NFL Players Association. Nelson was named the National team's MVP as he led his squad on a 14-play scoring drive in the opening series of the game. His final stat line showed that he completed 11-of-18 passes for 100+ yards and also added a one-yard rushing touchdown to that performance. Former NFL head coach Mike Martz and coach of the National team went so far to say that "Philip can be a starter in this league, I’m convinced of it. He has no flaws."[19]

Professional careerEdit

Winnipeg Blue BombersEdit

In January 2018, Nelson signed with the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers to compete for the fourth-string backup quarterback position. He was cut from the team in May before training camp.[20]

San Diego FleetEdit

In the third round of the inaugural AAF QB Draft, Nelson was picked by the San Diego Fleet with the eighth selection.[21]

Nelson began the 2019 AAF season as the Fleet's second-string quarterback behind Mike Bercovici. After Bercovici struggled for much of the season opener against the San Antonio Commanders, Nelson relieved him late in the game, completing 5 of 10 passes for 68 yards and an interception in the 15–6 loss. Nelson was eventually named the starter for the following week's game against the Atlanta Legends.[22] In his first start against the Atlanta Legends, he completed 14 of 30 passes for 142 and an interception as the Fleet won 24–12.[23] The following week's matchup against the Commanders saw Nelson throw an interception on the first play before rebounding with two touchdown passes in a 31–11 San Diego victory.[24] During the fourth game against the Memphis Express, Nelson threw a touchdown before exiting in the second quarter with a shoulder injury; he was replaced by Alex Ross as the Fleet fell 26–23.[25][26] The injury, later revealed to be a clavicle fracture, sidelined Nelson for the next month,[27] and he was eventually placed on injured reserve.[28]

Career statisticsEdit

Year Team Games Passing Rushing Sacked Fumbles
GP GS Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Rate Att Yds Avg TD Sck SckY FUM Lost
2019 SD 4 3 45 77 58.4 513 6.7 3 3 75.3 16 82 5.1 0 N/A N/A 1 1
Career 4 3 45 77 58.4 513 6.7 3 3 75.3 16 82 5.1 0 N/A N/A 1 1


Assault chargesEdit

Nelson was charged with first- and third-degree assault for allegedly kicking former Minnesota State Mankato football player Isaac Kolstad in the head during the early morning hours of May 11, 2014, after a night of underage drinking.[30] The argument allegedly involved conversation surrounding a bar bouncer hitting on Nelson's girlfriend.[31] Other people around the area reported that Nelson allegedly kicked Kolstad while he was unconscious, following being punched by a third party, Trevor Shelley. Shelley, also facing first- and third-degree assault charges, told police he did not hit Kolstad.[31] Kolstad was left unable to breathe on his own following significant destruction of brain tissue and underwent surgeries.[32] Surveillance video of the fight shows Kolstad throwing the first punch, knocking Nelson to the ground.[33][34] The fight lasted eight seconds.[35] Nelson, age 20, and Kolstad were both intoxicated, according to police.[36] Kolstad's injuries included a skull fracture, brain shifting, brain bleeding and lung deterioration due to lack of oxygen.[31] Kolstad moved home with his wife and two daughters in 2014.[35] Kolstad is able to walk but suffered permanent brain damage.[37]

Nelson pleaded guilty to lesser charges and reached a tentative settlement with Kolstad in 2018.[38]


  1. "Rutgers dismisses Philip Nelson". ESPN New York. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  2. "Benkert Decides To Transfer From East Carolina".
  4. Chad Courrier (December 11, 2011). "Mankato West's Philip Nelson named Mr. Football". Mankato Free Press. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  5. "MaxPreps Lemming Report: Philip Nelson named National Sleeper of the Year".
  7. "Philip Nelson". Yahoo!. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  8. "Philip Nelson". MSN. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
  9. "GOPHERSPORTS.COM MarQueis Gray Bio :: University of Minnesota Official Athletic Site  :: Football".
  10. 608-252-6473, JIM POLZIN | Wisconsin State Journal | |. "Badgers football: Philip Nelson solid in debut as Minnesota QB, but dad's alma mater wins".
  11. Sandritter, Mark (2012-12-29). "2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas final score: Texas Tech wins on game-ending field goal".
  12. "Iowa Dismantles Minnesota 23–7 – Nelson, Gophers Struggle Against Physical Hawkeyes".
  13. "Minnesota vs. Northwestern – Game Recap – October 19, 2013 – ESPN".
  14. "Nebraska vs. Minnesota – Game Recap – October 26, 2013 – ESPN".
  15. "Syracuse vs. Minnesota – Game Recap – December 27, 2013 – ESPN".
  16. "Gophers QB Philip Nelson announces that he's transferring". Star Tribune.
  17. "QB Philip Nelson kicked off Rutgers football team following assault charges".
  18. "Ex-Rutgers quarterback Philip Nelson lands at East Carolina as a walk-on".
  20. Hubson, Ross (May 10, 2018). "Winnipeg Blue Bombers sign 5 players, release QB". Global News Canada. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  21. Wilson, Ryan (November 27, 2018). "Alliance of American Football QB Draft: Aaron Murray, Christian Hackenberg highlight QBs taken". Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  22. Kratch, James (February 10, 2019). "Ex-Rutgers QB named new Alliance of American Football starter after team’s ugly 1st game". Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  23. Schrotenoer, Brent (February 18, 2019). "Pro football returns to San Diego: Here's what it's like at an AAF Fleet game". USA Today. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  24. "San Diego Fleet Defeat Commanders to Avenge Season Opener". KNSD. February 24, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  25. Gordon, Grant (March 2, 2019). "Mike Singletary, Express notch first AAF victory". National Football League. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  26. Kercheval, Ben (March 2, 2019). "AAF Week 4 scores, highlights, updates: Express complete comeback, Apollos win in the snow". Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  27. Kercheval, Ben (March 4, 2019). "AAF 2019: San Diego Fleet quarterback Philip Nelson out at least a month with fractured clavicle". Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  28. Gartin, Zachary (March 4, 2019). "San Diego Fleet Make a Flurry of Roster Moves in Response to Injuries". East Village Times. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  29. "Alliance of American Football".
  30. "Cops say Rutgers QB Philip Nelson was upset over bouncer flirting with girlfriend".
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 FOX. "Home – KMSP". KMSP. Archived from the original on June 22, 2014.
  32. Perez, A.J.. "Victim in alleged assault involving former Rutgers QB Philip Nelson had portion of brain removed". Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  33. FOX. "Home – KMSP". KMSP. Archived from the original on December 28, 2014.
  34. "Isaac Kolstad's 'sucker punch' started Mankato fight, lawyer says".
  35. 35.0 35.1 "Isaac Kolstad, victim in alleged assault by ex-Rutgers QB Philip Nelson, has made significant progress".
  36. "Dec. 18: Kolstad says, 'I can feel myself getting better' -". Star Tribune.
  37. "Former Mankato linebacker Isaac Kolstad defying the odds on the road to recovery".

External linksEdit

Template:San Diego Fleet roster navbox Template:Minnesota Mr. Football navbox

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