QB Philip Nelson to transfer

Minnesota sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson announced Thursday that he will transfer from the program to seek an offense that emphasizes more passing.

Nelson started 16 games for the Gophers but shared time with Mitch Leidner during the 2013 season. The coaches decided not to redshirt Nelson midway through his freshman year in 2012, and he started Minnesota's final seven games.

"I have the utmost respect for Coach [Jerry] Kill and what he's done for this program," Nelson said in a statement released to the Star Tribune. "I also want to reach out to all the great Minnesota fans that supported the football program and say thank you. Your effort makes a difference. I am looking to play in a system that centers more around the pass game which utilizes my skill sets. I am excited to go out and meet with programs that match up with my talents."

Nelson, a native of Mankato, Minn., led the Gophers in total offense with 1,670 yards (1,306 passing, 364 rushing) in 2013 but completed only 50.5 percent of his passes. Minnesota's offense leaned more toward the run, as 586 of its 853 plays were rushes.

Nelson had a total of 2,179 passing yards with 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

"Philip is a terrific young man, and I wish him all the best as he continues his education and football career elsewhere," Kill said in a statement. "I want to thank Philip for the contributions he made to our football program both on and off the field, and I will do anything I can to help him both now and in the future."

Leidner and redshirt freshman Chris Streveler are expected to compete for the starting job this spring.