When Minnesota took Philip Nelson's redshirt off at midseason, Gophers fans howled about the potential waste of a year of eligibility for a well-regarded recruit.
The upside to his earlier-than-expected experience is the extra confidence he can take into his sophomore year. Despite being the only quarterback on the roster who has taken a college snap, Nelson won't be without competition when fall practice begins this weekend.
Given the zone read running plays the Gophers frequently use, the quarterback is prone to taking plenty of hits in this offense. So coach Jerry Kill's wish is to keep his starter fresh.
''Do I want to play flipping quarterbacks and all that? No. Is there a place and time? ... Yes, according to what's happening in that particular game plan,'' Kill said.
In 2010, Kill's final season at Northern Illinois, Chandler Harnish was the starter, but freshman Jordan Lynch took some turns and finished with 362 yards and three touchdowns rushing plus a handful of passes...