The East Carolina Pirates gained a little depth at the quarterback position this week with the announcement of former Minnesota and Rutgers quarterback Philip Nelson joining the program as a walk-on.
Nelson, a 3-star quarterback out of Minnesota, was ranked at the second best player in the state as a high school senior and one of the 15 best pro-style passers according to Rivals recruiting services. Minnesota beat out Iowa, Iowa State, and Nebraska among others for Nelson's commitment.
Nelson spent two seasons at Minnesota where he started 16 games with career totals of 169-338 passing for 2,179 yards, and 17 touchdowns to go with 162 rushes for 548 yards and six touchdowns. Nelson transferred after his sophomore season to Rutgers with two full years of eligibility left plus a redshirt still available due in major part to the Rutgers offense being much more quarterback friendly in the passing game.
While at Rutgers for only four months, Nelson got into an altercation in his hometown of Mankato, Minnesota in which 24-year-old Issac Kolstad suffered life-threatening injuries. Nelson pleaded guilty in January to lesser charges to avoid potential prison time.
While Nelson is currently practicing with the Pirates, it has yet to be determined his true eligibility for the 2015 season as the matter is still in the hands of the NCAA. It is the hopes of the Pirates coaching staff that Nelson will be awarded two years of eligibility and be allowed to play immediately.
Another skilled passer in the mix is always good for the offense and gaining one that made 16 starts in the Big 10 is even better. Currently, Kurt Benkert is the starter for the Pirates and though inexperieinced, looks ready to make a splash for East Carolina immediately. It will be seen very quickly if Nelson is able to get his college career back on track and compete for playing time this fall with the Pirates.
In addition to the announcement of Nelson, former Louisburg junior college linebacker Bruce Walker, offensive lineman Jared Huneycutt and defensive lineman Anthony Orr were added to the roster as walk-ons.