It was late afternoon on the third and day of the 2018 NFL Draft when the agent representing Tevin Lawson received a call from the Los Angeles Chargers.
What was strange wasn’t the fact that Lawson -- a former Denham Springs High standout -- was receiving interest from an NFL team.
It was the fact that it was from the Chargers, a team Lawson had sporadic contact with since the start of his start of his senior season at Nicholls State. His agent also talked to the club during the Beyond Sports Network (BSN) Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“It was shocking they were calling to offer me a (undrafted rookie free agent) deal,” Lawson said. “I hadn’t personally talked to them since the beginning of last season.”
The two sides quickly reached an agreement with the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Lawson becoming one of 21 signees the Chargers brought in for a three-day rookie mini-camp last week.
“I feel blessed,” Lawson said. “God’s put me in a position that a lot of people want to be in. It’s the thing that I love and a job that I want to fulfill.”
Nicholls State coach Tim Rebowe said Lawson’s status as an undrafted rookie went according to the feedback he received from scouts.
“They thought he was maybe a late rounder, probably a free agent,” Rebowe said. “Being as light as he was, was something that probably worked against him. You’ve got to be pretty special to go in those seven rounds. There were a lot of guys that came in and liked his motor; liked the way he played the game.”
Lawson, who played nose guard and defensive tackle as a senior, is projected to play outside where he can utilize his speed to rush the quarterback.
It’s a transition he is looking forward to after a collegiate career of playing predominately on the interior at both TCU and Nicholls State.
“If I were to play inside I would need to add another 20 pounds,” Lawson said. “I still feel I need to gain 10 pounds. I would be comfortable at defensive end. I played outside a little at Nicholls last spring and I thought I did pretty good. They wanted to see me inside, so I played inside.”
Following his transfer to Nicholls State, where he redshirted in 2016, Lawson saw action in 12 games with 7 starts. He finished with 25 tackles, highlighted by a season-high 6 against Texas A&M, to go along with 4 quarterback sacks, a fumble recovery and blocked kick.
“He just did his assignment every play and he kept the guys off the linebackers and did his job,” Rebowe said. “People had to game plan for Tevin. He was as good for us as we expected him to be. He made some plays. People knew where he was on the field.”
The Canadian Football League-run BSN combine gave scouts a glimpse of Lawson, where he was among the top three in most of the event’s testing among defensive linemen.
Lawson had 21 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, a 10-foot-9 broad jump, 4.81 seconds in the pro agility drill, 7.63 seconds in the three-cone drill and 5.02 showing in the 40-yard dash.
He was far from content, though, continuing to train with Brusly native Walt Williams, who enjoyed a six-year NFL career with four different teams.
By the time Lawson took part in Nicholls State’s Pro Day, he improved those aforementioned benchmarks from Indianapolis, including a lower 40-yard time (4.90 seconds), four more repetitions on the bench press and an additional four inches in the vertical jump (33 inches).
“Scouts were looking at me then,” Lawson said.
Lawson said there were a lot of quiet days leading up to the draft with calls from only scouts from teams representing the Canadian Football League, which provided a glimmer of hope he may sign a professional contract.
“When you’re good enough they find you,” Rebowe said. “When Tevin redshirted, practicing against him wasn’t fun. He practiced like he was a starter and he wasn’t even playing in the games. He took that redshirt year as a way to work and keep getting better.”
Lawson signed with TCU out of DSHS where he played for coach Dru Nettles and was regarded as a four-star prospect by ESPN.com. That same service rated him the nation’s sixth-ranked defensive tackle and state’s sixth overall player.
Lawson spent three years in Fort Worth, playing in a total of 32 games for the Horned Frogs with 32 career tackle before transferring to Nicholls State where he is 6 hours shy of his criminal justice degree.
He said there will be some jitters during the initial stages of stepping foot onto the Chargers’ practice facility. He’ll be competing against other hopefuls where the odds are long of eventually landing a spot on the team’s 53-man roster.
It will also serve as a reminder of just how far he has come since Lawson first began playing organized football at Southside Middle School.
“I didn’t think I would even go to college,” Lawson said. “Once I found out I could go to college it’s been a grind since ever since.”