Meet QB Philip Nelson the Renegades starting quarterback for Week 1

Philip Nelson #9 Dallas Renegades
Philip Nelson #9 Dallas Renegades  Photo:

Here we go! The inaugural XFL season is less than 24 hours away from showcasing their league to thousands of fans who have anticipated the arrival of the new professional league.

The Dallas Renegades will face off against the St.Louis Battlehawks on Sunday at 4PM and they have named their starter for Week 1, and it is not QB Landry Jones.

Jones injured his knee while in training camp in mid January and is expected to be ready to play in the Renegades week 2 match up against the LA Wildcats.

So who is QB2 Philip Nelson?

Nelson started his collegiate playing career as a Minnesota Golden Gopher. In his debut start as a true freshman, Nelson passed for two touchdowns and was also the Gophers leading rusher. Nelson was later named the starter for the remaining 7 games of the season recording a 2-5 record and a bowl invitation to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

In his sophomore season Nelson led the Gophers to a 4-0 start, but suffered a hamstring injury against the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Gophers went on to lose that game 23-7. Once healthy, Nelson regained the starting quarterback position and helped the Gophers upset No.24 Nebraska in his return. Nelson later announced his decision to transfer to Rutgers University due to the uncertainty of being the starter for the Gophers the following year. Later, he was dismissed from the program.

Once dismissed from Rutgers he decided to walk on at East Carolina University, and won the starting quarterback job before the beginning of the season. Nelson and the Pirates began the season with a 2-0 record beating Western Carolina and NC State. Nelson combined for 6 touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown through those two games alone. The ECUPirates would go on to win only one more game that season.

After the season was over, Nelson was invited to the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl which is a game for Senior stand outs and NFL hopefuls. In that game, Nelson led his team on a 14 play scoring drive in the opening series of the game. He finished the game going 11 of 18 through the air for 100+ yards and also added a one yard rushing touchdown. He  named the team’s MVP for his performance.

Former NFL head coach Mike Martz and offensive coordinator of the 1999 St. Louis Rams team that was dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf” coached Nelson in the 2017 the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and endorsed Nelson as a potential star in the making.

Martz stated that, “he firmly believes Philip can be a starter in the {NFL}. He has no flaws.”

Nelson was also one of the  budding stars of the now defunct Alliance of American Football. Nelson was drafted by the San Diego Fleet in the 3rd round with the 8th pick. Nelson started the season as the backup to QB Marco Bercovici, but later replaced the struggling Bercovici in the Fleet’s first game against the San Antonio Commanders, and finished the game going 5-10 for 68 yards and 1 interception. Nelson was later named the starter for the Fleet in their next game against the Atlanta Legends.

In his first start Nelson went 14-30 passing for 142 yards and an interception, but led his team to victory against the Legends winning that game 24-12. The following game Nelson threw an interception on the first play of the game, but rallied his team to victory by throwing two touchdown passes to beat the San Antonio Commanders 31-11. In his third start he started the game but exited the game in the 2nd quarter with a shoulder injury. He was later placed on IR with a broken clavicle and never took another snap in the AAF due to the league ceasing operations in April 2019.

Nelson finished 10th in passing yards (513) and passing touchdowns (3) and 6th in completion percentage (58.4%) in the AAF’s lone season. Those are pretty respectable numbers considering he only played 4 games and started 3 in comparison to Mike Bercovici who played 4 full games and tallied a lower completion percentage, quarterback rating and threw 7 interceptions compared to Nelson’s 3.

Nelson also had a small stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian football league and served as the fourth string quarterback, before being released from the team before training camp in May 2018.

You may look at this and say that he doesn’t have the resume. Well the resume may not be there, but now that he has a collegiate legend head coach Bob Stoops and the originator and innovator of the Air Raid offense Hal Mumme on his sideline, the sky is the limit for Nelson.

In my opinion, throughout training camp, Nelson showed vast improvement compared to his days in the AAF, and much credit is due to the coaching staff in Dallas, and having Landry Jones there to mentor him definitely helps. I believe Nelson will be more than capable of commanding the offense, especially since the offensive scheme plays to his skill set.

I’ve told you about Nelson’s accomplishments during his young career so maybe you don’t know enough about the Renegades starting quarterback just yet.

But I can tell you one thing, that question will be answered in full detail come Sunday at 4PM central standard time, as the Renegades take the field looking to secure their first win of the season and in XFL history.

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