The state of Minnesota is not thought of as a place that produces elite football talent, but the Minnesota Vikings seem to keep finding local players to bring to their team.
Marcus Sherels is a five-year veteran who is from Rochester and played at the University of Minnesota. Adam Thielen is a native of Detroit Lakes and played at Minnesota State University, Mankato in college. Then on their practice squad they have Isaac Fruechte, a native of Caledonia and a University of Minnesota alumus, and Zach Moore, who attended Concordia University, St. Paul. The team also has Eden Prairie native Carter Bykowski on injured reserve.
It is a bit of an anomaly that so many players with Minnesota ties have ended up on the Vikings’ roster, but head coach Mike Zimmer seems to think that the reason is a pretty simple one.
“I don’t think it’s so much that,” Zimmer said when asked if they had so many players with Minnesota ties because they could scout them more. “I think we get plenty of info on everybody. I just think that some of the local guys, if they have a choice between a couple different teams, they’d prefer to come home.”
Thielen seems to think that it is more of a happy coincidence. The Vikings are looking for players to fit different roles on the team and it just so happens that the ones they are finding are also from the area.
“Not really sure, just good players,” Thielen said when asked why the Vikings have so many Minnesotans. “There’s a lot of good talent around this area and they’re doing a good job at finding it.”
A year ago Thielen quickly became a fan favorite during the preseason. He was a local kid that was working hard to make the Vikings’ 53-man roster after spending a year on their practice squad. A lot of people in the state appreciated that and loved how hard he worked every chance he got.
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He made the team and was able to have a big impact on special teams and even got a good amount of offensive snaps late in the season. While it can be expected that he will continue to be a key special teams player for the team, his role on the offense is still a little up in the air.
“I’m just going to go out there and whatever they ask me to do,” he said. “I’m going to do to the best of my ability and try to help this team win.”
One way that he can continue to help his team is to help some of the younger players on the roster, especially those currently on the practice squad. Since his journey to making the 53-man roster began by being placed on the practice squad, he knows what needs to be done during their time there.
One of the players he has been working with a lot is Minnesota native Fruechte. He was also an undrafted free agent that signed with the Vikings and was then placed on the practice squad. Thielen has been working with him all offseason and he seems to have high hopes for Fruechte.
“I had him come and train with me this offseason and we both push each other so it’s good to have that,” Thielen said.
“He’s a great kid and that’s going to take him a long ways. He comes out here every day and no matter what the coaches tell him to do he’s going to do it and I think he’s going to get a lot better this year and he’s going to have big things in the future.”
Whether the ties between the Vikings and native Minnesota players will continue through the years is yet to be seen, but they appear to be strong for the 2015 season.