So this season, he's competing with MItch Leidner, who was redshirted last season. Leidner is a couple inches taller, a little heavier and it looks like his arm might be a bit stronger, but he lacks Nelson's quickness or athleticism, key traits for the read option offense.
"We don't need the quarterback to make a million plays," Limegrover said. "Just make the plays we need him to make. We don't want to throw the ball 60 times; we want to run the ball, and that should open the play-action."
Nelson practiced with the first unit Friday night, with Leidner going second. True freshman Chris Streveler was also taking a lot of snaps, while freshmen Connor Rhoda and Donovahn Jones look like redshirt possibilities.
"Coach (Jerry) Kill does a great job of creating competition," Nelson said. "It brings out the best in everybody."
KIll said that eventually, he wants to settle on his top two quarterbacks so they can get ready for the season-opener. He was pretty vocal about the quarterback play during Friday's practice, but said that scrutiny comes with the position.
"You have to have pretty tough skin," Kill said. "You have highs and lows. The did some good things today, and they struggled with some things."
Nelson, who spent the summer on campus working out and watching film, has pretty lofty goals for himself and the team. He helped the Gophers reach a bowl game last season, and he had pretty good numbers in that contest with Texas Tech, but it wasn't good enough.
"The expectations are high," he said. "We want to win more games and get to a bowl game, and we want to win the bowl game."