Christopher Smith

Gophers QB Nelson To Texas Tech?

Created on Jan. 19, 2014 5:44 PM EST

Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson, who last week announced his intention to transfer, likely will head for Texas Tech or UCLA, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Saturday.

"Add UCLA as a possible destination for transferring Gophers QB Philip Nelson, but Texas Tech appears to be the front-runner," Charley Walters wrote in his column.

Nelson, a mediocre quarterback for the Gophers, has started 16 games, but his interceptions and incompletions nearly match his touchdowns and completions. Minnesota benched him in favor of freshman Mitch Leidner at the end of the Texas Bowl.

But Nelson's main reason for transferring was to go to a school with a more pass-oriented offense. He will have to sit out a season whether he decides to play for the Red Raiders, Bruins or elsewhere, but it makes sense that he'd choose Lubbock, Texas. Coach Kliff Kingsbury, in his first season as a head coach, proved his intentions to model his offense after former coach Mike Leach.

Kingsbury worked in a successful passing system at Houston and worked with Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M before getting his first head coaching job. Texas Tech also lost depth at quarterback after the season as part-time starter Baker Mayfield and backup Michael Brewer decided to transfer.

Davis Webb will be a true sophomore in 2014, and he's expected to start at quarterback after a decent first year. Nelson has not used a redshirt season yet, so both players will enter 2015 as juniors. Nelson likely would have to unseat Webb, and although that's a big projection that remains hypothetical, it still seems like he'd have a better chance at starting and playing at Minnesota.

At UCLA, Brett Hundley almost certainly will head for the NFL after the 2014 season, so the Bruins would be looking for a quarterback, but the team has recruited well under Jim Mora and will have other talented options.

Whatever his reasons, it seems clear that Nelson no longer wants to play for Minnesota, and that's well within his rights as a student-athlete. But if he ever wants to start at quarterback for a major-conference school again, he'd be wise to ensure he uses this next year to make major steps in his development as a quarterback.

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