BOZEMAN — On Monday night the Bozeman Gallatin Raptors football team saw its third player from their first ever senior class commit to play the Division I level. Senior wide receiver and defensive back Tyler Nansel is going to play at Drake University next year.
“I’m just feeling super excited," he said. "You work for a long time, you and your teammates, just to have an opportunity and then Drake came and gave me that opportunity. I went there on my visit and I felt like it was a family in how I fit in -- it definitely seemed like the place for me.”
A two-time captain for the Raptors, Nansel worked his way back from an injury that sidelined him his junior season to shine in his senior year with 335 yards receiving and six receiving touchdowns. He had two interceptions on defense.
“He rehabbed super hard," said Raptors head coach Hunter Chandler. "(He) hit the weight room. Came into his senior year and really had a phenomenal year. Did a really good job at corner and at receiver. Special player on the field and then off the field. He’s really academically driven, gets really good grades, does a ton for our school.”
When Drake, an FCS school in the Pioneer Football League, came to town for its game against Montana State on Sept. 11, they stopped by the Gallatin game against Billings West the day before and the Bulldogs tight ends coach Noah Evangelides couldn’t help but take notice.
“(Evangelides) just saw me play and right away he said he loved me. He knew what he was getting into and that was really, for me, just passing that eye test and giving me that confidence that he wants me and I want to go there,” Nansel said.
Although he played wide receiver at Gallatin, the Bulldogs want Nansel to move to tight end.
Starting out, I’m going to be like a receiving tight end for them," said the Gallatin senior. "Hopefully, as the years go, gain some weight and hoping I can work my way into the lineup and be a starting tight end or play a lot.”
Chandler couldn’t speak highly enough of Nansel and his leadership that he provided the program.
“I think that our guys definitely followed him," Chandler said. "He definitely laid a good foundation for some of these younger guys to follow in.”