Delano, MN native Nathan Triplett didn’t have to go far to find a place to play college football. He attended the University of Minnesota and was a standout special teams player and LB for the Gophers from 2007-2009.
During the 2010 NFL Draft, the Vikings didn’t have to go far to find a solid 5th round draft choice. They tabbed Triplett as their choice with their second of two 5th round picks and have designs for him to contribute on special teams and perhaps in any or all of the 3 LB spots.
Continuing with the “not having to go far” theme of this blog entry, Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman won’t have to go far to see Triplett suit up in purple for the 1st time. Triplett will be among a large contingent of young players participating in this weekend’s rookie minicamp at Winter Park.
Spielman, Head Coach Brad Childress and the rest of the Vikings defensive and special teams coaching staff will begin to see where and how Triplett could fit into the team’s plans. He has good size – 6-3, 250 pounds – for a LB and produced in college both as a defensive player and as a special teams player. As a senior and starting LB, Triplett had 104 tackles. The 2 seasons prior to that, he was a standout special teams player. His ability to perform in both roles was likely a big reason why he stood out to the Vikings, who clearly target players with position flexibility and a penchant for performing on special teams.
“The one thing about him is he does have some position flexibility at linebacker,” Spielman said last weekend after drafting Triplett. “Maybe can play some Mike, Sam, or Will. The special teams stuck out; he didn’t play as much this year as he did in 2008 where he was a very good special teams player.”
Spielman didn’t have to go very far (that theme is really working in this entry) to see Triplett standout for the Gophers. Playing against the Wisconsin Badgers last October, Triplett collected 9 tackles and also had an INT. Fortunately for the LB, Spielman happened to be in attendance for that game.
“Yeah, I saw him play live against Wisconsin,” Spielman said. “He always got his hands on the ball; every game that I saw live or on tape he had a tendency to come up with a turnover. That is a knack or an instinct that a lot of guys don’t have.”
All joking aside, getting drafted by and potentially playing for your home town team is a fun situation and one that’s not all too common. Triplett is looking forward to the opportunity.
“Staying in Minnesota here has been a dream of mine since I was a little guy,” Triplett said. “You live in Minnesota your whole life, and I wanted to be a Gopher since I could walk and I’ve wanted to be a Viking ever since I knew what football was. It’s been a long trip through there, and I’m sure it means a lot to my family as well.”
Tags: Nathan Triplett, Rick Spielman
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