Former Gopher QB arrested in assault of Mankato LB - New York News

Former Gopher QB Phillip Nelson arrested in assault of MSU-Mankato linebacker

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Isaac Kolstad Isaac Kolstad
Phillip Robert Nelson Phillip Robert Nelson

Mankato police arrested former Gopher football quarterback Phillip Nelson on Sunday in connection with the assault of an MSU-Mankato linebacker.

Mankato police discovered Maverick linebacker Isaac Kolstad at 2:09 a.m. on Sunday morning near the intersection of Cherry and South Front streets. He is currently in critical condition at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.

The extent of Kolstad's injuries are currently unknown; however, a witness of the alleged assault told Fox 9 News she watched a person punch Kolstad before a second assailant kicked him in the head. 

"He fell to the ground; his head hit the ground, and then -- coming from the other angle -- a kid came and kicked him," Mackenzie Skay recalled. "That's when someone realized he was unconscious. It was horrible."

Police scanner recordings posted online named Nelson as the one who delivered the second blow, and police said at least 3 witnesses identified Nelson from the chaotic scene.

"The bang against the cement was the worst," Skay said.

Both Nelson, 20, and Kolstad, 24, are Mankato natives, though Nelson played in high school for Mankato West and Kolstad for Mankato East.

Former Maverick and current Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen tweeted his support after learning about the incident.

Nelson was located at the scene and taken into custody for probable cause assault and booked into Blue Earth County Jail at 2:44 a.m. Police are looking for another person who may have been involved. Nelson could face third-degree assault charges. 

Police are also seeking a second suspect in the apparent assault on Kolstad; however, they declined to release any additional details. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Mankato police at 507-387-8780.


Nelson, a top 2012 recruit, announced in January that he'd be transferring to Rutgers, one of the Big Ten's newest members. At this time, it is unclear how this arrest could affect those plans.

Transfer rules dictate Nelson would be required to sit out the 2014 season but would have two years of eligibility remaining. He started 16 games in his two seasons for Minnesota and threw for 2,179 yards and 17 touchdowns, 548 yards and six touchdowns rushing.

Kolstad started in all 12 games for the Mavericks during the 2013 season and finished with 59 tackles, including 29 unassisted.


Athletics officials took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to announce a candlelight vigil that began at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday at Myers Fieldhouse.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Isaac Kolstad and his family," the tweet from @msumavericks read in part.

Dozens gather for MSU vigil. Photo by Paul Blume


The family has posted a few updates on Kolstad's Caring Bridge website, including the following post:

"Isaac suffered a severe head injury early this morning. He is currently in Critical condition and fighting for his life. He is young and strong, but the battle he has in front."

The Mayo Clinic released a statement on behalf of Kolstad's family that can be read in full below.

We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support we have received during this difficult time. Isaac is a very strong and determined young man, who is dearly loved by his family and friends. We would respectfully ask for your continued prayers.

We would also ask members of the news media and others to respect our request and need for privacy at this time. We have requested that no further information (beyond his medical condition) be released. Thank you for your understanding and continued thoughts and prayers for Isaac, his wife and children, and all others who are involved in this situation. - The Family of Isaac Kolstad

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