The university was also marking the 40th anniversary of its first bone marrow transplant for leukemia, a procedure that Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze underwent on July 16 after his brother Thomas Barnes was determined to be a 100 percent match.
Udeze spoke to a crowd of middle schoolers in Chaska on Jan. 26 to promote a fundraising campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and said afterwards that he plans to be with his teammates working out when the Vikings return to practice for OTAs (organized team activities) in early April.
Right now, Udeze is back at the University of Southern California finishing up his degree and working out with current and former Trojans teammates.
"No excuses, get it done. That's always been my motto," Udeze said last month. "The guys back at home, they work out good enough to where I can gauge myself to where I know if I'm going to make it back next year and I know I am."
At Thursday evening's event, Childress didn't doubt Udeze.
"Nothing he does will surprise me, but I expect him to be back and be there for the first day of OTAs because that's what he's expecting," Childress said.
"He's in a great environment in terms of offseason conditioning right now and the family's out there with him and that's going good. He said he's feeling good."
Several times during an extended interview (more of which will be published in the next issue of the Viking Update magazine), Udeze was resolute in his comeback.
"Once my team gets back together, I'll be in my jersey. … If I didn't feel it, I wouldn't be saying it. If something drastic happens, then that's that, but I can bounce back from this," he said.
THE MIXED MASTER?
During a recent interview with a New York radio station, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports said that the Vikings were considering Mixed Martial Arts training for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson told the Pioneer Press he wasn't considering it, and on Thursday Childress said the MMA angle was "misrepresented."
"Obviously, Tarvaris doesn't have any plans to go to Arizona and train," Childress said.
Asked about the quarterback situation with the Vikings, Childress declined to get into specifics, but said, "We're still turning over things. … We go through the restructure, cuts, trades, we look at all that. I have not spoken to Tarvaris, nor have a spoken to Gus (Frerotte) yet."
"He's active. He's a premier special teams player as well. He played at Nebraska-Omaha. He's a good, active linebacker and excelled on their (CFL) field, which is obviously wider and longer than ours," Childress said.