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Former MSU football player 'fighting for life' after assault, ex-Gopher QB arrested

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A former Minnesota State University, Mankato linebacker is in critical condition and "fighting for his life" after an apparent assault in downtown Mankato early Sunday, according to his CaringBridge page. Police arrested former University of Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson on probable-cause assault in connection with the incident.

Isaac Kolstad, 24, was left unconscious after being kicked in the head twice, the Star Tribune reports. A witness of the alleged assault told FOX 9 that she saw a person punch Kolstad and a second person kick him in the head. She said that he also hit his head on the cement. (Listen to police scanner audio from the incident, here.)

Police found Nelson, 20, near the scene and he was booked into the Blue Earth County jail. Charges including third-degree assault are being requested against Nelson, according to a news release on the city's website.

Police said they are also looking for a second man who they believe was involved. It's not known what roles Nelson and the other man are accused of playing in the apparent assault.

Kolstad suffered a severe head injury and sustained permanent brain damage, his father, Blaine Kolstad, wrote on the CaringBridge page. His father wrote that he had surgery on Sunday to put a pressure gauge in his skull and may need additional surgeries in the coming days.

In a statement, the Kolstads said, "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," according to KEYC.

Kolstad was a safety on the North Dakota State football team in 2008 and 2009 before transferring to MSU. He graduated in December 2013 with a B.S. in management from the school’s College of Business, according to the Pioneer Press.

Jonny Christensen, a former football player at MSU told the Star Tribune that Kolstad "wasn't drunk" and that he is a "quiet young man, with a new wife and daughter." He added that Kolstad is "low-key and calm" and he's "never seen the guy without a smile."

His teammates held a candlelight vigil in his honor Sunday night.

Some in the MSU community turned to Twitter to express their sorrow and support for Kolstad and his family, many using the hashtag #22Strong. Kolstad wore No. 22 while playing at Mankato.

Both Kolstad and Nelson are from Mankato. Nelson played high school football at Mankato West, while Kolstad played at Mankato East, according to reports. It's unclear if the two knew each other, the Star Tribune says.

In January, Nelson announced that he was transferring to Rutgers University after playing two seasons with the Gophers. Nelson started 16 games with Minnesota, throwing for 2,179 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for 548 yards and another six touchdowns.

The Gophers declined to comment on the incident and Rutgers issued a statement saying it is in the process of gathering information about the incident, ESPN reports.

It is unclear when Nelson will be arraigned, but some media outlets have reported either Monday or Tuesday.

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