Despite not being taken during last weekend's NFL Draft, Nigel Nicholas couldn't be happier about the way things turned out for him, and the opportunity he now has.
The former Ridgeland all-state star wrapped up a solid four-year career at Oklahoma State last fall and began moving up draft boards with an impressive pro day two months ago. After he and his agent discussed which of the four interested teams would be the best fit, Nicholas signed a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans Sunday.
Nicholas' agent had also been contacted by the Dolphins, Raiders and Falcons, but each of those either have young defensive linemen already established or just used multiple draft picks to take defensive linemen. The Titans were also a better fit simply because they run a 4-3 defense, which will allow Nicholas to continue playing end in a system he's familiar with.
"My agent is based in Nashville. He has connections there and when we looked at it, that was where we felt like I had the best chance of making a roster. I'm a defensive end at heart, and we didn't think some of the teams that run a 3-4 would be as good a fit for me to show what I can do.
"It's like a dream come true, especially being with a team that's so close to home."
Nicholas finished with 25 tackles, five for loss and four sacks last season with Oklahoma State, where he had played both end and defensive tackle. At his pro day workout, the 6-foot-3, 260 pound Nicholas ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds and turned 19 reps o 225 pounds in the bench press.
Former Oklahoma State teammate Markelle Martin, a second-year safety with the Titans, texted Nicholas after he signed to welcome him aboard the roster. Nicholas will report to the Titans May 9 and remain there until late June, preparing for the team's mini camp.
"Markelle just said now it's time to get to work," Nicholas said. "I'm real excited to be a professional. I know I've got a lot to learn and a lot of work to do, but this is a great opportunity for me. It couldn't have worked out much better."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.