When it comes to drafting college talent, coaches and scouts travel the country from Maine to California, Texas to Michigan and Florida to Washington. But the Vikings went into their own backyard to find linebacker Nate Triplett.
Triplett, a native of Delano, Minn., an outlying suburb of the Twin Cities metro area and four-year player at the University of Minnesota, grew up cheering for the Vikings. He said as a youngster his ambition was to play for the Vikes. On Saturday, he was given that opportunity.
"Staying in Minnesota 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. They're going to be able to go to more games now that I'm (a Viking). For me and my family, it means a lot and we're looking forward to a bunch of good years here in Minnesota."
Triplett said he is familiar with the Vikings from his youth and that the Vikings teams of the late 1990s and early in the 2000s were what he formulated his love for football around, and getting the opportunity to be part of the franchise is the culmination of a lot of hard work.
"I grew up watching those Cris Carter/Randy Moss teams – all those guys," Triplett said. "Lately, they have a good squad there. With Jared Allen and the whole defense we have going on here, I'm pretty excited to be able to step on the field with those guys."
As a member of the Gophers, Triplett was moved around a lot, which he hopes will work in his favor, but added that in the defense the Vikings run he is more likely to be moved inside to earn a roster spot.
"With the Gophers, I played some (weakside), I played in the middle and, down in Texas I played some (strongside) as well," Triplett said. "So I play inside, I play outside. But with (the Vikings) I think they're looking toward the middle a little bit, being with my size and all. That's something we're going to have to talk about and we'll see how practice goes, but I think middle right now is where they are looking at me."
Because of his size and speed limitations, many scouts projected Triplett in a 3-4 defense, where his size is ideal for an inside ‘backer in that scheme. He was hopeful to get a call from the Vikings but realized he was most likely to draw to interest from teams operating out of the 3-4.
"I had heard a lot from the 3-4 teams, a little more so than the 4-3 teams," Triplett said. "I kind of focused a little bit on them and where they projected me to go. A lot of them had me in the middle in a 3-4, but I didn't by any means rule out a 4-3. I was kind of hoping that the Vikings would take a look at me."
With E.J. Henderson and Jasper Brinkley in front of him on the depth chart, Triplett knows that his odds of making the final 53-man roster are anything but certain, but said he is willing to do what it takes to make an impression to stick with the team and get on the field however possible.
"That was one of the first things the coaches said when they first called me on the phone," Triplett said. "They said, ‘Are you ready to play?' and I said, ‘You know I'm ready to play.' I'm ready to play linebacker, but right away I think my role is going to be doing a lot of the special-teams things until I can really prove myself on the field as a linebacker. They've got some linebackers in Minnesota, they've proven themselves."
Triplett's homecoming back to the Metrodome is something he hopes will be as successful as his first stint in the stadium as a member of the Gophers. Just when he thought he was through playing games indoors, the Vikings showed him you can go dome again.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Triplett going dome again
Viking Update Top Stories
Scott Turner signs with MichiganMichigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has ruffled feathers since arriving in Ann Arbor. His hiring of Scott Turner may be the latest preemptive move.
Viking Update4:06 AM
Shurmur has his focal point for offenseMinnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur his “focal point” for where the offense needs to improve in 2017.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 2:38 PM
Shurmur sees critical offseason for TreadwellMinnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur believes 2017 will be a “very critical” offseason for seldom-used receiver Laquon Treadwell.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 9:29 AM
Centers and tight ends: Any Minny interest?The Minnesota Vikings may not have immediate needs at center or tight end, but free agency could get them thinking outside the organization for help.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 4:25 AM