Column: Nelson’s transfer good for both parties, ya feel me?

Samuel Gordon

Gophers football coaches spent the entire season trying to corral the team’s quarterback situation.

And despite an 8-5 season, they never quite figured it out.

So Philip Nelson took matters into his own hands.

The sophomore signal caller, who led the Gophers on their first four-game Big Ten winning streak in a single season in 40 years, announced his decision to transfer last week — a synergic move that will benefit both parties.

Nelson can find a new school where he can be the guy, and Gophers coaches can develop a clear-cut starter of their own — something this regime hasn’t done in three years.

Nelson’s decision doesn’t surprise me one bit.

He didn’t come to Minnesota to split snaps. Nobody does — especially when you come to the Gophers with a pedigree like his.

The Mankato, Minn., native was Minnesota’s Mr. Football as a high school senior and was the crown jewel of head coach Jerry Kill’s first full recruiting class.

He bounced from high school a semester early, opting for enrollment at Minnesota, where he would be groomed to take the reins as a four-year starter after his redshirt season.

But poor quarterback play in 2012 forced coaches to pull his redshirt early, and Nelson was baptized by Rose Bowl-bound Wisconsin in the first of his seven starts as a freshman.

With valuable Big Ten experience under his belt, he was poised for takeoff as a sophomore.

And though he took a majority of the snaps, Nelson shared time under center with redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner. He watched from the sideline as Leidner quarterbacked the Gophers in their bowl game — perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Nelson said in a statement that he’s looking to play for a school with a more pass-oriented offense.

At times, Nelson flashed brilliance as a passer, but he didn’t develop the way many thought he would — he completed barely 50 percent of his passes in his two seasons at Minnesota.

If he transfers to another Division I school, NCAA rules require him to sit out a year before fulfilling his two remaining years of eligibility, which could serve as the crucial development year he missed as a freshman.

Nelson’s departure leaves Leidner as the only experienced quarterback on the roster and the obvious front-runner to start in 2014.

He played well in spurts in 2013 and has been working with former Gophers quarterback Adam Weber to improve his passing.

Grooming a quality backup is important, too, as the quarterback takes a beating in Minnesota’s run-heavy offense.

But Nelson’s decision to transfer paves the way for Leidner to become the guy at Minnesota and stabilize the quarterback position.

Now, it’s on the coaches to make sure that happens.

Ya feel me?