Riley Nelson, a Parade High School All-American and the reigning Deseret Morning News Mr. Football, will suit up for the Utah State Aggies this fall, instead of sitting out a year before serving an LDS Church mission.
The dismissal of back-up quarterback Jerod Walker during spring drills led to Utah State football coach Brent Guy and Nelson making the decision for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound signal-caller to participate this fall.
"He'll be full time (in school) and he'll play in the fall for us," Guy confirmed Monday afternoon. "He'll be on the team."
When Nelson signed with the Aggies in February he made it known he would not enroll in school full time and would leave for a mission in summer 2007 then possibly redshirt when he returned in 2009. But with only three quarterbacks available for the Aggies starter Leon Jackson III, Jase McCormick and Bryan Black Guy felt it was necessary to get Nelson in the fold, while at the same time honoring Nelson's decision to serve his church.
"We hadn't planned it originally that way," Guy said. "With the developments at the quarterback position and losing Jerod we had to have more people available."
Nelson, who set nine state records for the Class 3A state champion Logan Grizzlies, still intends on serving a mission when he turns 19 in June 2007, Guy said.
"Riley really wants to come out and compete and play. I think that was the final issue," Guy said. "He's such a competitive guy, and he didn't want to sit out and watch us play. He wanted to be out there competing and playing. He made the decision to do that, and his parents supported him."
Nelson separated his shoulder midway through Saturday's all-star game at Olympus High in which the Class 3A team, of which Nelson was a part, beat the Class 2A/1A stars, 52-21.
"It's just a mild separation," he said following the game. "I won't be able to work out for two or three weeks, but I'll be OK. It won't affect my play with the Aggies this fall."
"I think he'll be fine for camp," he said. "Everyone agrees that it's a setback as far as training but not as far as starting camp."
Nelson, who ran a similar offense to Utah State's while at Logan High, set records for career touchdowns (130), career passing touchdowns (79), touchdown passes in a season (53), completions in a season (277), yards passing in a season (4,041), total yards in a season (5,815), single-game completions (38) and touchdown passes in a game (7).
Guy said Nelson's success in the offense will give him a chance to earn playing time, and he will use him if he is ready.
"I always hate to predict what freshmen will do, but having been in the offense in high school and having done a lot of stuff we do ... he's very advanced, I think," he said.The Aggies finished 3-8 last year and 2-6 in their first season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies open the season Sept. 2 when they travel to Wyoming, a member of the Mountain West Conference.