Yankey: School's done, football is now first

David Yankey wanted to concentrate on finishing a challenging college degree when he returned to Stanford. Now that that's done and he won't have to "worry about classes again," his focus has shifted solely to football. He talked about the back-and-forth process, the challenges ahead and where he fits in.

David Yankey and Anthony Barr had dramatically different outlooks during their league-mandated time away from the Vikings while finishing up college at their respective Pac-12 schools.

Barr appeared irritated that he couldn't be with the Vikings during an important stretch of installation of the defense. Yankey, meanwhile, wanted to concentrate on getting his degree in Science, Technology and Society at Stanford.

"It was pretty tough because I was in school. That was my primary focus, just trying to graduate. Now that that's over, it's all football," Yankey said. "I don't have to worry about classes ever again. That's a nice deal there."

While Barr and Scott Crichton, the Vikings' third-round draft pick from Oregon State, another Pac-12 school, talked about staying in regular touch with coaches during the progress of the installation, Yankey preferred to keep his head down on his challenging college degree. His offensive line coach, Jeff Davidson, traveled to Stanford, but Yankey said that was more for Davidson to visit his son, who is a sophomore and also plays football for the Cardinal.

Instead, Yankey kept returning to study his notes from his only previous exposure to the offense at rookie minicamp to make sure he would at least have that much rote upon his return to the Vikings last week.

"We had gone through a couple of the installs. I think we did three installs in (rookie) minicamp, so just making sure I was up to date on those and then getting up to speed as much as possible out here," he said, adding that there was a lot of carryover to the time he returned to Minnesota.

"It is our playbook, the first three installs, and then just being able to, from there, expand as we got into (higher) installs."

Although he focused on schoolwork while at Stanford, as soon as that was done, he made a hurried trek back to Minnesota last week. Upon completion of his last final last Tuesday, he took a red-eye flight to join the team for the final two organized team activities in advance of this week's minicamp, the last team gathering before players have five weeks off in advance of training camp.

Yankey said last week was more about getting to meet the veterans and seeing how they practice, but this week things ramped up for him. He has already gotten some turns with the second team at left guard.

"You see the guys that have been pros for a long time. All the starters, all five guys have played for a little while and are good, solid offensive linemen. So (I'm) just watching them and how they prepare and how they attack," Yankey said.

At this point, it's too early to tell how Yankey will fit in with the offensive line, but he may have a chance to push for Charlie Johnson's starting spot at left guard. Brandon Fusco, the right guard, said competition is always good and he sees some promise in Yankey.

"He's only been here a couple days, but he's still learning. He seems like he's going to be a good player," Fusco said. "He's a physical player. He works hard. He's dedicated, it seems like, so he's going to be a good player."

Yankey's first goal is to make the 53-man roster at the end of the preseason. Everything else will only be of concern after that goal is reached.

For now, he's taking a typical rookie approach, working on new techniques being taught and adjusting to a new scheme and new team.

"There's always tons of stuff to improve on," he said. "No one is even close to being perfect. Especially being a rookie, every minute detail of your game is exposed, even things you thought were strengths. So I'm just working on everything."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

Viking Update Top Stories