Getting To Know: QB Spergon Wynn

Spergon Wynn got his chance to shine Sunday against Jacksonville, but he knows that patience is the key to long-term success in the NFL. And he is used to that virtue.

Spergon Wynn is to patience what Gilligan was to the uncharted desert isle. The identity of Wynn is solely because of his patience.

Without patience, Wynn might still be working part-time as a 23-year-old helping hand at a golf course. Without patience, Wynn might have become a college football dropout, never realizing his dream, never allowing his professional athletic career to come to fruition.

Patience is indeed virtuous. Wynn has become a professional at practicing that propriety. In fact, it's almost become habitual.

Before Wynn had ever set foot on a football field, he was already experienced at exercising patience. When he was in junior high, he was moved up a grade and immediately became one of the youngest kids in his class. But age wasn't the issue. His size was. While everyone around him was growing in size and stature, Wynn's biological clock seemed a couple of time zones behind.

It wasn't, of course. Wynn's quick academic progression just made it seem so. But no teacher or principal or parent could speed up his physical growth. Because of that, he was kept away from football.

"I wasn't quite mature physically, so my parents wouldn't let me play," Wynn said. "They didn't want me to play, so I played other sports. But I never really played any organized football, so I never knew if I would like it or not."

Finally Wynn grew, and he received the necessary green light from mom and dad. He was in ninth grade, about to make his football debut. "I was behind everybody else," he said. "I wasn't quite as talented physically as some other guys, but I hit my growth spurt and came along physically and I started to pass everyone up."

Literally, figuratively and statistically.

As a junior in high school, Wynn threw for 1,041 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. As a senior, he threw for 917 yards and eight touchdowns, earning all-district honors. In addition to his three football letters, Wynn's crowning jewel was when he helped Episcopal High (Bellaire, Tex.) win a state championship.

Four years prior, he hardly knew the difference between a slant and a fade. As a senior in high school, Wynn became a high-in-demand student-athlete that several colleges heavily recruited.

The University of Minnesota was one of those colleges. Then-Gophers head coach Jim Wacker, no stranger to Texas himself, liked what he saw in Wynn and recruited Wynn hard. High school players are granted five official recruiting visits by the NCAA, and visiting Minneapolis was Wynn's first. What Wynn saw was a losing program in need of a jolt. But he didn't see a lack of enthusiasm from Wacker. In fact, what he saw was precisely what he was looking for as a future college player.

"Minnesota was my first and only visit," Wynn said. "I took unofficial visits to a couple schools in Texas, but I had five visits lined up. But Minnesota was my first visit, and I canceled my others after that. That was my whole recruiting process right there."

In hindsight, the recruiting visit turned out to be perhaps the best memory of his tenure associated with the Gophers. Wynn spent the next two years practicing, but hardly playing at the U of M. Sunday through Friday, Wynn was getting his snaps as a quarterback. But come game day, come Saturday afternoon, Wynn carried the clipboard, not the pigskin.

After two forgettable losing seasons, Wacker was fired and Wynn — always trying to exercise patience and see the big picture — grew frustrated. He left Minnesota and transferred to Southwest Texas State, a Division I-AA school with a competitive football program.

Looking back, Wynn doesn't think he had any choice. "The coach I was recruited by left, and then I didn't really like the new coaches, so I decided to go back to a school in Texas where I felt I could play right away," Wynn said. "I hadn't been getting playing time up in (Minnesota)."

Wynn wasn't pouting. He was trying to make a sound decision regarding his future.

"Minnesota is a Division I school in the Big Ten, a great conference," Wynn said. "The school I went to is Division I-AA and it wasn't quite as big with not as much money to go around. The facilities weren't great, there wasn't a lot of money, but those guys can still play down there in Texas. Football is football. Eleven guys on 11 guys. That's all that matters. That's what it's all about."

It didn't take Wynn long to reacclimate himself with life deep in the heart of Texas. In 1998, as a junior, he started every game for SW Texas State and threw for 1,851 yards and 10 touchdowns. During his senior season, he threw for 1,646 yards and 14 touchdowns. Even though he was there just two years, Wynn left the school ranked as the sixth all-time leading career passer with 3,497 yards.

After being patient at the U of M for two years, Wynn's transfer paid off.

"I learned how to be a starter at the college level," Wynn said. "It was something I needed to do, to get game experience. It worked out well for me."

No kidding.

"I have no chip on my shoulder," Wynn said. "I went to a Big Ten school for two years. I just felt that what was best for me was to get on the field and play. But I made it and I'm not worried about college anymore.

"I just want to keep getting better as a quarterback, and if I keep looking back, I won't get any better. It's not about where you're from, it's about where you're at."

Where Wynn is at is listed as the Minnesota Vikings' third-string quarterback. But With Daunte Culpepper having undergone arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month and likely out for the season, and No. 2 QB Todd Bouman nursing a sore thumb, Wynn has suddenly been thrust into a more active role.

Turns out, it could even be a starting role next week after Bouman reinjured his thumb Sunday against Jacksonville. Wynn played from the second series forward, completing 24 of 39 passes for 218 and one interception. His patience paid off.

Now, Wynn realizes he is never more than one play from playing in an actual game and orchestrating the Vikings' once high-octane offense.

"I approach it like any other position player would," Wynn said. "You have to be into it mentally and be ready if you're called upon."

Head coach Dennis Green likes what he sees. "Regardless of how much he plays for us over the next one or two or three years, he's going to be a very good player in the National Football League, if he's patient like Todd has been, like (Jay) Fiedler has been, Daunte, all of the guys have had to wait their spot," Green said. "I think Spergon is going to be a very good player."

It's not as if Wynn has zero NFL experience. Admittedly, he's far from a wily veteran with seasons as a starter decorating his résumé, but Wynn did enjoy some limited playing time last season in Cleveland, when Browns starter Tim Couch was shelved with an injury.

Wynn, who was the Browns' seventh-round draft pick in the 2000 draft, appeared in seven games for Cleveland. In his only start of the season, he hit 22 of 54 passes for just 167 yards and one interception. But more important than the statistics is the invaluable minutes Wynn gained, directing an offense in the NFL.

It's an experience Vikings coaches believe only serves as an asset for Wynn. "Any experience is valuable," Vikings quarterbacks coach Alex Wood said. "He had some degree of success. His numbers weren't big and his time wasn't extensive, but that time underneath the center is a good experience for him."

Wynn was about to complete his second training camp in Cleveland when he was informed of a trade that was sending him to Minnesota. "I feel like it was a good move for me," Wynn said. "I wasn't disappointed at all."

He knew he was deep on the Vikings' depth chart, but it was nothing new for Wynn. His situation was far from foreign for someone who's seen the dividends of patience time and time again.

"I've drawn confidence from Todd's performances," Wynn said. "Todd going in there and doing well shows that if you work hard and stay in there mentally, you can be ready when you're time comes."

Something Wynn knows all too well. VU

TOUGHEST PLAYER EVER FACED: Running scout team against Courtney Brown
CURRENT VEHICLE: Lincoln Navigator
HOBBIES: Movies, reading and playing video games
FIRST JOB: Golf course worker

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