Nice write up, good luck on the recruiting process and hopefully we can see Tristan in A2!
Introducing: Tristan Nickelson
Tristan Nickelson on an unofficial visit to Auburn. [Photo courtesy of the Nickelson family]
League City (TX) Clear Falls offensive tackle Tristan Nickelson projects to be one of the top offensive tackles in the nation in 2013, and it looks like Michigan will be a serious player in his recruitment. The 6'7", 280-pound prospect is an ESPNU 150 Watch List candidate and could receive consideration for five-star status when the 2013 class is ranked. Excelling in the classroom as well as on the field, Nickelson carries a 4.1 GPA (!) and plans on studying mechanical engineering in college. His father was kind enough to update me on Tristan's recruitment as he prepares for his junior season, which kicks off tomorrow against the Hitchcock (TX) Bulldogs.
ACE: Who has been recruiting Tristan from Michigan? What is his interest level in the Wolverines, and are there any plans to take a visit at this point?
MR. NICKELSON: Coach Funk personally sent Tristan a hand-written invitation to attend one of the summer camps in Ann Arbor last June -- unfortunately we had a conflict in scheduling and were unable to attend. Based on NCAA rules, Tristan can’t receive any recruiting information until September 1st, 2011.
At this point (still very early in the recruiting process) Michigan would be his top choice, based on the new coaching staff, Coach Funk, the engineering department, and the incredible facilities. Tristan asked me several years ago, “Which top-25 program also has a world-class engineering department?" I answered Michigan, so since that time Michigan has been his favorite college team, even though I played for coach Jim Wacker at TCU (4-year letterman 1984-1988) and his mother played volleyball for Texas A&M. (Our daughter Taylor is a freshman at Texas A&M.)
We would like to explore taking an unofficial visit to Michigan to expose Tristan to the game day environment, and we're thinking that invitation will happen -- but again, most likely after Sept. 1st. It would be Coach Funk’s call or the recruiter assigned to the greater Houston area.
Tristan also plans on attending the Michigan Football Camp in June 2012.
ACE: What other schools have shown interest, and does Tristan have an idea of which programs are among his favorites?
MR. NICKELSON: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, TCU, West Virginia, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M -- basically everyone on the list has started showing interest in recruiting Tristan by inviting him to games and unofficial campus visits.
His top three at this point (in order) would be: Michigan, LSU and Texas A&M.
ACE: Does Tristan have a timetable in mind for his recruitment? How has he handled all the attention so far?
MR. NICKELSON: We plan on attending a number of college football games this season, then continuing with unofficial visits throughout the spring and summer. Tristan is being considered for the U.S. Army All-American Game (Jan. 2013) and could wait until then to announce his final choice. I guess the timeline is still undetermined at this point. Schools can start contacting him directly on April 16th, 2012 -- I’m sure it will get crazy at that point.
ACE: This might be tough to answer, being his father, but how would you evaluate Tristan's strengths and weaknesses on the field? Is there anything specific he's working on in his game right now?
MR. NICKELSON: Although several publications have him listed at 6’6”, 255 lbs. [and playing for] Clear Springs High School, the correct information is 6’ 7 3/8”, 281 lbs. (with a shoe size of 17) at Clear Falls. So we need to improve on his “feet work” along with his 40 time; at the Under Armour Combine he was timed in the 6.4’s, which he has since improved to under a 6.0. Based on the top 10 OT numbers, Tristan really needs to be under a 5.2 by spring football (March 2012). His shuttle times have also continued to improve, and I would say at the point in his career, he is a much better run blocker than he is on pass protection. On over 50% of the run plays, he ends up with a “pancake block.”
From a positive standpoint, he is very strong and increasing weekly as he matures. Several programs, including Auburn, feel like Tristan will play in the 310-320 range. He has a wingspan of 82.5” and extremely large/strong hands (Tristan had the strongest hands at the UA Combine -- 165 lbs. on pressure). He is also on the wrestling team, placing 4th in district last year as a sophomore in the 285-pound class (his weight was 241 during the season). He is being trained by one of the top Olympic lifting coaches in the country, Tim Swords.
ACE: You said that your son is planning to study mechanical engineering in college. What qualities is he looking for in his future college choice?
MR. NICKELSON: As I mentioned, the combination would be a top-25 football program with has a top-tier engineering school; it’s only a handful of schools that have both. In addition, we have talked about playing for an offensive line coach that played the position in college or in the pros, along with a head coach that will have some level of flexibility in regards to the engineering curriculum.
Based on recent events, it will also be very important that the program is in good standing with the NCAA, and not under any type of current investigations.
If Tristan has the opportunity to play in the NFL that will be great, but we have always stressed the need for a great education, which he has done a great job of managing to date. So from our perspective, the pursuit of the [mechanical engineering degree] should always be equally as important as playing for a major university.
Great interview Ace. Looks to be a good one, and God knows we need OT's. Does he have any offers at this point?
Mr. Nickelson. It's like right out of the NYT. It's classy and respectful (even if he's only 16-17). That's the Michigan difference.
That was Nickelson the elder (aka Dad).
By the way, that's the kind of attitude I wish every parent would have regarding their child's college choice--football or no.
Great work Ace! Love the content and the format, though it took me a minute to realize what this was about. At first I thought this was going to be introducing the new photographer to the MGoBlog staff.
Thanks! Let me know if (any of) you have suggestions for titles and formatting -- I figured for each post for a new recruit on the radar, "introducing" would work, but I'm open to changes if that seems confusing (or just lame).
I think it works well as a way of getting to know the guys who are just coming on to Michigan recruiting radar. It will definitely be a feature I will be looking foward to in the future.
Great interview. Perhaps to make it more clear start with "Ace:"
We used to go insane when we saw the "TomVH:" to start a post. We knew what it was about before even reading the title.
but I like the Ace:Interview with 2013 Prospect or something like that. You may have interviews with him later in the process which would no longer be "introducing" him.
This kid looks like an ace student.
Pretty quick on the draw there.
What the hell is an ace student?
Texas does grow 'em big.
Looks like we're off to a great start with this kid, thanks for the info!
So the future years have me confused, that would be in Morris' class? Why can Morris visit and have contact but Nickelson can't? I'm just confused on the rules here.
Players can always reach out to coaches, as far as I understand, but there are certain "dead periods" (we're in one right now) where coaches can't contact players themselves. Tristan's dad says he's really focused right now on preparing for school and football, but I'm sure he'll be in contact with U-M when the dead period ends next month.
EDIT: And to answer your first question, yes, that would be Morris's class -- starting their junior year this fall.
Very good first interview Ace, hope we can continue with the great OL recruiting into next year, and it looks like that is a real possibility.
Great interview Ace. Nice to see that we are on top of his list so far.
I had no idea what this was at first! Nice work, Ace! seems like you're getting settled in nicely. Kids a monster already, would be a nice OL pickup!
I love smart linemen, and based on his dad's remarks, the Nickelson's sound like a really great family to have in the Michigan community. If down the road he signs, the engineering school is getting a good one.
This is great news. I will add him to the list of kids to keep an eye on for 2013.
I know quite a few people in the Clear Lake area of Texas (which includes League City, Webster, Friendswood, etc.). I figured there was a good chance that Ron Nickelson is just a Degree of Separation or two from me. Turns out, I was right .... But -- wow!
No fewer than 10 people I know are in his network as well. They include folks in Texas whom I know, as well as people up in Michigan.
We are going to have to call him Babyface. I thought this was a joke until I realized how large he is. Proportioned like a smaller kid, with the face of a 13-year-old.
Sounds like an incredible prospect though.
Sounds like Tristan is the kind of quality person, not just player, that would make a great Wolverine.
Mr. Nickelson has a lot to be proud of.
It seems like we have a troll lurking around. Only a troll would downvote this thread. JohnnyV123 you have been identified.
Graduated BSME in 2009, I'd say other schools to look out for if he really wants a top degree and top 25 football:
Michigan and Stanford both have top 5 Mech Eng programs, the others are good as well
So that's good news in regards to his "top 3" of TAMU and LSU.
Also, no NCAA investigations yet LSU in his top 3? Hmm..
We're at 7 according to this ranking (we were 2 in 2009) Ga Tech, Illinois and Purdue are also all top 10.
TAMU: NR or at least "locked" maybe they want a subscription
LSU: Same here. They're both Ranked, but not Top 10
A&M is ahead of LSU. MEEN generally hovers about 10th amongst public institutions (so 15-18 overall).
That said, US News rankings kind of suck.
his Dad gives really quality responses.
6'7" 281 pound Sophomore. Yes please.
His body is HUGE, his head so tiny (but obviously has the brains!).
Who could give this post a down vote?
Engineering school + M Football = no brainer. LSU? No way.
Coach Funk better give that kid a call on September 1st!
Sounds great to hear that we are starting as the leader. Hopefully he can come up and see everything including the engineering departments.
Make sure Tristan has all the contact in the world (when appropriate) with Mark Huyge!!
School of Engineering, majoring in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and (hopefully) starting RT for U of M.
Between him and Steve Elmer, it's great knowing that we are already making strides for what look like to be two of the top 2013 OL recruits. I'm sure Shane Morris approves.
I am very excited to see this football team in 3-4 years.
Great Start ACE
Will continue to look forward to reading your stuff. Good hire Brian!
I can't imagine the insane workload of playing offensive line for UofM along with the course load of the Michigan engineering department. When I first came to UofM, I was tempted to walk on to the golf team but I decided I would instead focus on my studies. I'm glad I did because the work load is a tad more intense than the typical LS&play path that most student athletes take.
That being said, I like the ambition. I hope we can get him.
what idiot negged Ace's first post?
I love you Ace
i hate when firefox tells me that my post didn't go through when it did. damn you mozilla foundation.
Sounds like we have a great, great shot with Tristan - although I hope he doesn't wait until the Army AA Game in Jan. 2013 to announce. Smart offensive linemen who are also good are a huge plus. But man o man, being a U-M engin grad, I can't imagine trying to balance playing football with the engineering school workload. He'll probably have to do spring semesters every year I'd guess.
both elmer and nickelson would be pretty ridiculous, wouldn't matter who was running the ball if they were running behind elmer, nickelson, kalis, magnusson, and garnett
also, sounds like the kid projects as a right tackle
I really like everything I just read about Tristan, but what's the basis for the "could receive consideration for five-star status" claim? He isn't on 247's initial list of the top 247 prospects, and he doesn't have any offers as far as I can tell. I can't find the "ESPNU 150 Watch List," though, so maybe there's more there.
I've never heard of this kid (probably because he is a 2013 prospect), but he sounds like a giant OT. If he can get that 40 down below 5.2 he will be a lock for four stars (possible 5). Way to pull this out of your ACE!!!