BYU football: USU QB Nelson transferring to BYU

Logan star plans to join Cougars after mission

Published: Tuesday, May 27 2008 12:02 a.m. MDT

Brigham Young University's quarterback era after Max Hall got a little more dramatic on Memorial Day when one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Utah high school history announced he would attend BYU.

Riley Nelson, a Parade All-America QB from Logan who attended Utah State University as a freshman before going on an LDS mission, will play at BYU upon his return from Barcelona, Spain, in March 2009, according to his father, Keith Nelson.

With permission from his mission president, Nelson and BYU coaches have communicated through e-mail and came to an understanding about Nelson transferring to BYU. Nelson informed his parents of the decision on Monday morning, a national holiday.

"He looked at this from an emotional, academic and athletic perspective and decided this was the best thing for him to do," according to Keith Nelson.

Nelson's addition to BYU's quarterback corps will impact competition by Jason Munns and James Lark. Munns, a freshman, participated in spring practice and was rumored to be headed for the mission field before fall practice, while Lark left for missionary service after the 2007 season.

They are expected to return for the 2011 season. Nelson could be the stop-gap after Hall's departure, expected after the 2009 season. Nelson has a redshirt year available.

Nelson's football resume is as good as they come — regardless of competition.

"Riley believes he has a lot to learn from BYU quarterback coach Brandon Doman. He respects him and is looking forward to working with him. Riley wanted to get this decision out of the way so he could focus on the most important thing in his life right now, his mission work, which he loves," said Keith Nelson.

At 6 foot-1, Nelson was one of the few bright spots for the Aggies when he took over the team's starting signal-calling duties during a dismal season two years ago.

In 2006, Nelson set the USU record for single-game completion percentage by completing 21-of-24 passes (84 percent) against San Jose State.

The 2006 season began with Nelson sitting behind Leon Jackson III for the first five games and watching Jackson eventually implode. Finally in Game 6, Nelson made his first start and led the Aggies to a 13-12 victory over Fresno State for their only win of the 2006 campaign.

For the year, he threw for 874 yards and six touchdowns, while throwing six interceptions. He also rushed for 277 yards, second-best on the team.

With that win, Nelson was the first Utah State quarterback since Anthony Calvillo in 1992 to win in his first career start.

Here is a breakout of his profile on Utah State's Web site:

He was named a Parade All-American. ... Named Mr. Football in the state of Utah by the Deseret Morning News. ... Was the Gatorade Utah Football Player of the Year as well. ... Was an all-state selection and the class 3A MVP. ... Set a national record by accounting for 84 touchdowns (53 passing and 31 rushing) as a senior. ... Also set a national record by averaging six touchdowns per game. ... Finished his high school career with nine Utah state records, including career total touchdowns (130), career passing touchdowns (79), season completions (277), season passing yards (4,041), season passing touchdowns (53), season total touchdowns (84), season total yards (5,815), single-game completions (38) and single-game touchdown passes (seven). ... Led Logan High to the 3A state championship as a senior. ... Also played baseball for three years and was a two-time all-region selection. Played basketball one season. ... Born June 2, 1988, in Salt Lake City. ... Son of Keith and Joni Nelson. ... Father played football at USU, while his grandfather Rod Tueller was an Aggie basketball coach and USU athletics director.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

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