PITTSBURGH — It’s not often that quarterbacks from California play at Duquesne, but the Dukes have two of them – Darius Perrantes and Evan Nelson. In fact, Perrantes and Nelson went to high schools seven minutes from each other in the Los Angeles area. Perrantes went to St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge and Nelson went to Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta.
Both Perrantes and Nelson transferred to Duquesne from other programs. Perrantes came from Rhode Island and Nelson played at two junior colleges in California, Cabrillo College and Victor Valley. So, how did Nelson end up at Duquesne?
“After my junior college season, I was emailing pretty much every FCS school that had a senior quarterback the year before. So, just trying to find someone to watch my film and give me a chance. My junior college coaches told me FCS was probably the level that I could play at. And Duquesne was the school that ended up watching my film and said I could walk-on out here, so it’s an opportunity I took.”
Nelson came into this season as the fourth-string quarterback, but due to Evan Mischler suffering a season-ending ACL injury and Perrantes dealing with a lower-body injury, he got his first career start against St. Francis last week. Nelson completed 8 of 21 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort against St. Francis. Nelson said after the game that he has to do a better job of putting the ball in the right spot for his receivers, along with working on building chemistry and timing with his receivers.
“A couple of them are banged up, so you got to find a balance between getting them rest and then getting them reps. But it’s been good, we’ve been getting good work,” Nelson said about getting continuity with his receivers in practice.
Perrantes is a game-time decision for Saturday’s game against Long Island University in New York, so Nelson could potentially be the starter again. Perrantes and Nelson split reps at practice this week.
“We’re not sure, we’ll figure that out,” Nelson said about whether he’ll start or backup Perrantes on Saturday. It depends on a couple different things right now, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Nelson took an unusual path to where he’s at right now, but he says his faith has played a big part in his life.
“I just trust God,” Nelson said. “I know He has a plan for my life. I focus on Him, and I come out and do what I’m supposed to do every day and work hard. So, let the rest take care of itself.”
LIU is 2-5 on the season and are 2-2 in conference play. LIU’s first three games of the season were against FBS opponents – Florida International, West Virginia and Miami of Ohio. LIU lost their first five games of the season but are on a two-game winning streak with wins over Central Connecticut State University and Wagner College.
“They’re pretty good, they play hard,” Nelson said about LIU. “They had a tough start to their season. They played three FBS schools, but they’ve won their last two now. They played hard in the spring. They do a couple different things on defense, so you got to be mentally sharp to play against a team like that.”
Kickoff for Duquesne’s game against LIU is at noon. The game will be streamed on NEC Front Row.