Believe it or not, Steve Spurrier is not the first Alliance of American Football coach to make a quarterback change.
That honor goes to former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz. A former Rutgers quarterback who has redeemed himself following an infamous end with the Scarlet Knights has been pushed into the lineup as a result.
Philip Nelson played the final quarter of the San Diego Fleet’s nationally-televised 15-6 loss to the San Antonio Commanders, and Martz announced he will be the Fleet’s starting quarterback next weekend when they host the Atlanta Legends on Sunday, Feb. 17.
Nelson was just 5-for-10 passing for 68 yards and an interception, but gave a clear jolt to the Fleet’s offense after starter Mike Bercovici had a rough night, getting sacked six times while throwing two interceptions.
“Mike’s just not ready,” Martz said after the game. “Mike is going to be a really good player. Mike has not been in this system. Phil has.”
Nelson transferred to Rutgers in January 2014 after two years as a starter at Minnesota. He was expected to redshirt that fall and then compete for the starting job in 2015. But two weeks after his Rutgers spring game debut, Nelson was arrested and charged with two counts of assault for his role in a fight outside of a Minnesota bar during a break from classes. Facing possible years of jail time, he was kicked off the team within two days.
Nelson would eventually plead guilty to a lesser charge close to a year later, only receiving a $300 fine and 100 hours of community services. He resurfaced at East Carolina and won its starting quarterback job as a walk-on in 2016.
After ECU, Nelson starred in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in 2017, where he was coached by Martz. Nelson trained for the NFL Draft at TEST Football Academy in Martinsville, but did not land an NFL opportunity that year. Nelson did have a cup of coffee in the CFL in 2018. Martz then drafted Nelson in the AAF’s quarterback draft in late November.
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