Size: 6-foot-2, 225 pounds
Hometown: Mankato, Minn.
Committed: February 19, 2011
Prep Career Highlights:
As a senior, Nelson led Mankato West to an 11-1 record, conference and section championship and berth in state semifinals. He passed for 2,784 yards and 35 scores, while rushing for 1,243 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior.
Nelson won the prestigious Minnesota Mr. Football award following his final high school season. He was named ESPN Gatorade Minnesota Player of the Year and Associated Press Minnesota Player of the Year in 2011. He also selected to the all-state team by the Minnesota Vikings and the Associated Press.
Nelson set state records for single-season total touchdowns (55) and career touchdowns (135). He finished his career No. 2 on state charts for attempts (801), completions (490), passing yards (7,561) and touchdown passes (94).
Coach Matt Limegrover's Take:
"Philip Nelson is a young man, he's an in-state product. He was a guy we earmarked very early. Trying to get this program to where we want it to be, we knew there had to be guys that had the "it" factor. Guys that were going to take us and say hey, ‘I want to be part of this. I want to make this thing special.' Philip was a great example of that.
"He listened to what we had to say. He was around a lot as a junior, came to a lot of events. I think he saw what we're trying to do and what we're trying to build and he liked it and wanted to be part of it.
"The fortunate thing is he also has the ability and the skills to come with it. He's got the "it" factor as a quarterback. He's not a kid who can just throw the football, he knows how to be a quarterback and he showed that throughout his high school career. Once again a guy who has come early, here, to start early. That extra spring will be huge for him."
Nelson finished the regular season with one of the highest totals in touchdown passes in the state, and he didn't make his team wait very long before delivering another one in this game, tossing a TD pass on the second play of the game. He throws a beautiful deep ball, is very accurate as a thrower, and makes good, quick decisions.
He does a great job reading the defense, before and after the snap, even checking out of bad plays at the line of scrimmage on a few occasions based on what the defense was showing. He handles pressure well, usually converting in third-and-short or fourth-and-short situations, and seems very competitive.
As good as Nelson has been throwing the ball, he is surprisingly very athletic too and has great speed for a quarterback with his size. He runs the ball very well and even scored a pair of touchdowns on the ground in this game, including one where he made a great diving effort while switching the ball to his other hand to reach inside the pylon before falling out of bounds. Defenses are going to have to work very hard to keep him contained in the pocket or he will gain a lot of yards running on them.
The one area where Nelson needs to improve the most is with his short to intermediate throws. His release is a bit slow and he appears to keep his elbow back too far at times while delivering the ball. When that happens, he doesn't get a lot of velocity on the ball and so his throws tend to float in the air too long, which could be a problem when he is facing defensive backs in the Big 10 who are much faster than the typical high school athletes.
Getting to Know:
Why did you decide to enroll early?
"It was just the right situation for me. I love the whole coaching staff and the offense really fit into what I needed to do. All my faith is in these coaches and I really believe that everything is going to turn around and it'll be really special to be a part of that turnaround."
What are your goals for next season?
"I want to continue to get better and to give it my all in practice. A more specific one is to get that Axe back where it belongs. "
What are your goals for your college career?
"I want to win a Rose Bowl. I mean I want to win any bowl games to start off. I want us getting over .500 and eventually getting up to the point where we could get into the Big Ten Championship Game. Personally, I want to get my degree and maybe get a shot to make it to the next level."
How do you feel about the new uniforms?
"They're really sharp. It's nothing crazy like an Oregon or a Maryland which is a good thing. They're sharp and they have a lot of meaning and tradition to them. That's really special and something a lot of other schools don't have, so that's pretty unique on our part."
What is your favorite TV show?
Who is currently your favorite musical artist?
"I'd have to say Brad Paisley."
Information from GopherSports.com was used in this report.