Former Navarro College and University of Texas offensive lineman Tristan Nickelson accepted a rookie camp invitation from the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to a report Monday from Jeff Howe at Horns247.
A source close to Nickelson told Horns 247 following the NFL draft that Nickelson’s agents were looking at three different deals late Saturday night, but the 6-foot-6, 315-pound offensive tackle ultimately agreed to attend the Bucs’ rookie mini-camp.
Nickelson, who earned All-SWJCFC honors in 2014 during a 6-3 season for Navarro, appeared in 30 games over three seasons for the Longhorns. He joins Baylor’s Maurice “Mo” Porter (Buffalo) as former NC players who signed undrafted free-agent deals with NFL clubs.
Nickelson heading to Tampa brings the number of Longhorns headed to the NFL to 11 as he joins a group with fellow free agents Antwuan Davis (Detroit), Poona Ford (Seattle), Armanti Foreman (Minnesota), Jason Hall (Seattle), Holton Hill (Minnesota) and Naashon Hughes (Green Bay) — plus the four draft picks: Connor Williams (Dallas), Malik Jefferson (Cincinnati), Michael Dickson (Seattle), and DeShon Elliott (Baltimore).
Nickelson had a unique, beat-the-odds journey to the NFL.
Lightly recruited from League City Clear Falls High School, he chose to attend Fork Union Military Academy before returning to Texas and Navarro College. The two-star junior college recruit originally committed to Iowa State before flipping his commitment to Texas during the 2014 season.
Nickelson started three of the nine games in which he played as a sophomore in 2015. An ankle injury in preseason limited him to eight games in 2016, but he earned three starts during his junior season. Nickelson made six starts and saw action in all 13 games during 2017. His 12 career starts at UT came at four different positions (seven at right tackle, three at left tackle, and one each at right and left guard).
Nickelson’s father, Ron, lettered as an offensive lineman at TCU in 1985; his mother, Pam, played volleyball at Texas A&M.