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Texas OL Tristan Nickelson Headed to Rookie Camp with Buccaneers

 
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247 Sports | April 30, 2018

By Jeff Howe

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A massive offensive lineman who appeared in 30 games for the Longhorns over three seasons, Tristan Nickelson will get a chance to make an NFL roster.

While the University of Texas issued a press release Saturday night that six Longhorns agreed to undrafted free agent contracts following the 2018 NFL Draft, Monday’s news brings the number of undrafted rookies headed to the next level to seven.

Horns247 has learned that offensive lineman Tristan Nickelson has accepted a rookie camp invitation from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A source close to Nickelson told Horns247 following the draft that Nickelson’s agents were looking over three different deals as of late Saturday night, but the massive offensive tackle (6-10, 315) ultimately agreed to attend the Bucs' rookie mini-camp.

Nickelson heading to Tampa Bay brings the total number of Longhorns headed to the NFL to 11 as he joins a group with fellow free agents Antwuan Davis (Detroit Lions), Poona Ford (Seattle Seahawks), Armanti Foreman (Minnesota Vikings),

(Photo: Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports)       Jason Hall (Seattle Seahawks), Holton Hill (Minnesota Vikings) and

Naashon Hughes (Green Bay Packers) and the four draft picks produced by the program — Connor Williams (Dallas Cowboys, second round), Malik Jefferson (Cincinnati Bengals, third round), Michael Dickson (Seattle Seahawks, fifth round) and DeShon Elliott (Baltimore Ravens, sixth round).

Even though Williams broke a streak of Texas not having had an offensive lineman draft since 2008, Nickelson continues a run of the Longhorn offensive linemen getting a chance to make a roster as an undrafted free agent. In recent years, Kent Perkins (2017), Trey Hopkins (2014), Donald Hawkins (2014) and David Snow (2012) spent at least one season on an active NFL roster despite not being drafted.

Nickelson has had a unique journey to the NFL, beating a lot of odds along the way.

A lightly-recruiting high school prospect out of Clear Falls in the Greater Houston area, Nickelson went to prep school for a year at Fork Union Military Academy before coming back to Texas to attend Navarro College. A two-star junior college recruit (No. 270 in the 247Sports Composite rankings), Nickelson originally committed Iowa State before flipping his commitment to Texas during the 2014 season after then-offensive line coach Joe Wickline made Nickelson a priority in recruiting.

Nickelson played in nine games as a sophomore in 2015 and made three starts, the first of which came in a memorable 24-17 upset victory over Oklahoma. An ankle injury in the preseason limited Nickelson to eight games in 2016, but his junior season saw him earn three starts along the way.

As a senior, Nickelson proved to be a valuable role player up front after the Longhorns lost Williams to a knee injury in a September road loss to Southern Cal. Nickelson saw action in all 13 games of the 2017 season, which included him making six starts during the regular season.

While his frame and length suggests he’s a tackle all the way, Nickelson’s 12 career starts for the Longhorns came at four different positions (seven at right tackle, three at left tackle and one each at right guard and left guard).

 


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