Ex Gophers QB Philip Nelson Walks On at ECU


Philip Nelson has just made things a lot more interesting at quarterback for the East Carolina Pirates, and not entirely for the right reasons. According to reports from the Wilmington Star NewsBrett Friedlander, Nelson has walked on to the football team at ECU. This move was confirmed by Coach Ruffin McNeil.

Nelson is part of a new breed of quarterbacks, the quarterbacks who change schools more than once. That move is more common these days, but usually it has to do with taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule. Former quarterback Pete Thomas went from Colorado State to NC State to Louisiana-Monroe.

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Nelson’s journey is a bit different. Nelson started sixteen games for two years at quarterback for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. After a coaching change he transferred to Rutgers in 2014. Nelson was dismissed from the team before playing a down because of he participated in a fight. That fight ended with another player, Minnesota State – Mankato’s Isaac Kolstad with brain injuries. Nelson has now walked on at ECU as a junior.

McNeil took care to note the deliberation that occurred in bringing Nelson on board and hoped that the Pirate environment would help Nelson find the right direction and grow both as person or player.
For practical purposes, ECU has just added a quarterback to its roster with actual starting experience.

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This has to be a shot across the bow at presumed starter sophomore Kurt Benkert. Benkert saw little action last year as a freshman, only serving in mop up duty against North Carolina Central and North Carolina.

Of course it is hardly Benkert’s fault that Shane Carden was so good for so long. Benkert should still be considered the starter until otherwise informed. It is just hard to see this move as being entirely an act of compassion. Did Nelson choose to walk on to East Carolina to learn rural medicine? He went there because he thought he could play there in that pass happy offense.

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