Late Commitment Gives Thigpen Opportunity

Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen said he didn't take his offseasons too seriously until he realized he might have an opportunity to play football after college. See what the seventh-round draft pick had to say about his opportunity with the Vikings.

When the Vikings ended the 2006 regular season, there was a lot of discussion about where the quarterback position was heading into the 2007 season. That talk, however, came primarily from the media, not head coach Brad Childress.

Despite having free-agent players like Jeff Garcia, released veterans like David Carr and potential rookies like Brady Quinn at their disposal if they were willing to commit, Childress remained pretty steadfast that the Vikings had no interest. If they were going to make a move at quarterback, it would be with a developmental project in the draft.

Childress remained true to his word, as the Vikings bypassed a lot of quarterback talent in both free agency and on draft weekend, opting to go with the player they felt best met the needs of their system by taking Tyler Thigpen of Coastal Carolina.

Thigpen, like any seventh-rounder, knows the odds are stacked heavily against him making the team, but he has the opportunity and that is the biggest key as far as he's concerned.

"I'm definitely excited about the opportunity I have in front of me that Minnesota has given me to come up and show my talent," Thipgen said. "I'm excited about that."

Thigpen's career looked like it would be nothing special. In his first two seasons at C.C., he had a sub-50 percent completion percentage, but after a junior year that showed some marked improvement, he saw the potential for his football life to go on after his senior season and committed himself completely.

"I didn't take the offseason really seriously my first three years at Coastal," Thigpen said. "I sat down with my quarterbacks coach and he way saying, ‘You have an opportunity to further your playing (career).' I took the offseason before my senior year very serious and that's what got me to this situation right now."

The NFL did come knocking at his door following a season in which he completed 64 percent of his passes, threw for almost 3,300 yards with an impressive 29-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Five teams – the Vikings, Detroit, New York Giants, Carolina and Philadelphia – sent representatives to attend his Pro Day (the first Pro Day in Coastal Carolina history) and three teams – the Vikings, Lions and Chiefs – brought him for a predraft visit.

In the end, he felt very comfortable with what the Vikings told him and became convinced he would be a good fit with the team.

"I want to play for a coaching staff that makes me feel good as a player and cares about their players and guys who want to play football," Thigpen said. "I'm one of those guys and I'm ready to play football. I'm just coming with the opportunity I got. I've got to learn the system. I'm the new guy. I've got to be a fast learner and I look forward to the opportunity I've been given."

While Thigpen knows the track record of seventh-round draft picks isn't good at having a long NFL career, much less making the jump from a D-IAA program, he is ready for the opportunity and plans to make it difficult for the Vikings to send him packing.

"It's going to be a big jump – I won't lie," Thigpen said. "It's definitely a big jump coming from a (Division) I-AA (school) but that's something that, as a quarterback, I have to cope with the speed of the game. I've got to be 100 percent all the time. I can't take a play off."

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