After finding out he’s getting a chance to play in the NFL, DeKalb grad and former Northern Illinois University wide receiver Cole Tucker just got one heck of a backup plan if he doesn’t catch on at football’s highest level.
Tucker was selected with the fourth overall pick Tuesday night in the Canadian Football League Draft by the Calgary Stampeders.
“It’s exciting,” Tucker said. “I knew I was going to go around that area. It’s exciting to get your name called, be on the phone with your coach and everything. It was just how I expected it to be.”
Tucker was invited to Minnesota Vikings training camp, which takes place May 12-15, overlapping with the Stampeders rookie camp.
But Tucker said he’ll be able to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL, and if he’s not invited to fall camp with the Vikings he’ll head to Calgary.
“Obviously, I’m hoping if things work out with Minnesota they’ll keep me around,” Tucker said. “If not then I’ll go up to Calgary.”
Earlier this week Tucker said getting a shot at the NFL has always been a life goal of his.
“I’ve been working for this my whole life,” Tucker said Monday. “I’ve had great coaching throughout DeKalb and NIU. I was never really a highly recruited guy, always a little bit of an underdog. So going in, I’ve just got to show them what I can do. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m going to make the most of it.”
The DeKalb graduate was eligible for Canadian citizenship because his mother, Cindy, was born in Manitoba. She was a gymnast who competed for NIU.
“It’s exciting. I knew I was going to go around that area. It’s exciting to get your name called, be on the phone with your coach and everything. It was just how I expected it to be.”— Cole Tucker, DeKalb grad and former NIU wide receiver
Tucker had 155 catches for 2,030 yards and 10 touchdowns in his NIU career, which began in 2017.
He potentially joins a line of NIU receivers playing for the Stampeders. Juwan Brescacin, who played for NIU from 2011-2015, played with Calgary from 2016-2019. The Stampeders also signed former NIU standout Tommylee Lewis in January after five seasons in the NFL with New Orleans and Miami. Lewis also played from NIU from 2011-15.
Calgary finished 12-6 last year in the CFL West, making the playoffs but losing in the first round.
Tucker said he’s visited Canada, mainly family in Manitoba, at least 50 times in his life. He said having the CFL as a backup plan is exciting.
“The CFL is still great football, a lot of great players up there. It’s a dream come true to play professional football and get paid to do what I love.”