We will be following Philip Nelson all season, this is the first of two stories focusing on the Mankato West star's off season. Today will focus on his senior year with the Scarlets. Next week will focus on what he is doing to prepare for Big Ten football with the Minnesota Gophers.
There are a lot of benefits to committing to a college early for high school athletes. Instead of worrying about campus visits, recruiting calls and even more pressure to perform on Friday night early commits can focus on getting better for their senior year while laying the ground work for a successful college career. Mankato West junior Nelson is in that rare position. An early commit to Minnesota, the quarterback has put all the hassle of recruiting behind him and can focus on preparing on winning a state championship.
After the football season Nelson made the tough decision to end his basketball career.
"Obviously I am going to be playing college football so I'd rather be working towards that and preparing for my senior year in high school."
Nelson has used his extra time wisely.
"I have a team workout I do," said Nelson. "It consists of three main days of (Olympic lifts). Along with those there are other little exercises we are doing at the same time. I run three days a week. It is sprints and plyometrics at the Mankato Sports Institute. I also do resistance running and all the ladder work. I have been trying to cut down on my forty and improve my feet.
Nelson also makes a drive north to get in some football specific work in.
"I go up to Winter Park a couple of days a week," said Nelson. "The receivers run routes and we work on our drops and throwing the ball accurately."
As the weather gets better Nelson will do more of his throwing work near home, but will still occasionally get in the mix with the group of guys that works out in Eden Prairie.
The Scarlets will be competing in some seven on seven camps and team camps.
"We are planning of going to the Gopher's seven on seven passing tournament," said the quarterback. "We have one here at Mankato State and we are planning on going to a team camp at Augustana. It will be a great experience before the season actually starts."
Nelson knows the benefits of seven on seven formats, but also feels it has its drawbacks.
"It mainly helps in reading a defense without a line there," said Nelson. "You can really look at the defense. With a line there you have to worry about being mobile in the pocket, finding lanes. Without the line there you can really look at a defense and without the line there and see more. At the same time if you do too much seven on seven that kind of messes up timing and all that. We don't do much seven on seven stuff, but it is nice to get out there with the wide receivers."
Nelson has the physical tools. Before his senior season starts he wants to do all he can to improve those tools and one more important quarterback role.
"I want to work on being a leader of the team -doing everything I can to help my team win," said Nelson. "(Physically) you can never be too accurate, have too much arm strength or anything like that. I want to get better in all aspects."
Nelson getting any better is great news for Scarlet fans. He will be a three year starter leading one of the most explosive offenses in the state for one more run at the one thing that has eluded him as a starter - a state championship.