Vikings schedule another OL visit

The Vikings' predraft visits are beginning to be uncovered by Scout.com, and they have added another offensive lineman to their guest list for next month's massive predraft gathering. Find out more about the highly rated prospect, which Viking he admires and what he had to say about his work up and down the offensive line this offseason.

The Vikings will be bringing in another top-rated offensive lineman as part of their predraft visits on April 6-7, according to Scout.com NFL draft analyst Chris Steuber.

Idaho guard/tackle prospect Mike Iupati is the latest draft visit uncovered for the Vikings, who are allowed to have 30 prospects visit Winter Park before the draft. The Vikings like to have all of their visits together over a two-day period for talks with coaches, meeting other staff members, dinner and social interaction.

The 6-foot-5, 331-pound Iupati has been moved around since his college season ended as pro scouts and coaches try to see how he performs at different positions along the offensive line.

"A lot of people told me that I have to be versatile. They know that I am a pretty good athlete. It'll come natural to me. I just have to learn it," he said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

But most teams see him as a guard, and he says his aggressive nature firing off the ball lends itself to that position. Still, he has confidence that, given time, he can succeed at the more valued position of left tackle if that what his future NFL wants.

"I'm very quick setting up my left side. But I need a little time with it and I know I'll be fine. You've got to give me time," he said. "That's where the money is. I've been playing left guard all my career and it's something I have to learn."

Despite spending his career at Idaho at left guard, where he made all 34 of his career starts, at the Senior Bowl he spent time at right guard as they worked him into different situations. He has also been considered on the defensive line as well, which he enjoys because of his aggressive nature.

He said he played left guard in college because he liked to pull and admires Vikings Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson.

"I admire him a lot. I want to be like him. Gotta keep working hard," he said, calling it "very simple" to zone block, which the Vikings do often.

In 2009, Iupati earned consensus All-America and All-WAC honors and was an Outland Trophy finalist. According to NFL Draft Scout, he didn't allow a single sack all season and graded out at 90 percent or better in all 13 games. He is rated as Scout.com's top guard in the draft.

Despite being on the verge of making millions of dollars as an expected first-round draft pick, life wasn't always easy for Iupati. His family moved from American Samoa to the United States when he was 14 years old in search of a good education for him.

"They sacrificed a lot of stuff to move from Samoa because we were very well off," he said. "Coming to the U.S. and realizing it's very difficult financially, we moved into my Auntie's house and stayed there for a whole year," he said. "Then my parents both had jobs and were able to support us financially so we moved to a small apartment in Anaheim and lived there paycheck to paycheck. It's been hard. That's why I always take advantage of every little opportunity I get, just try to seize the moment so I can have a better future for myself and my family."

In reality, his family wasn't living in his aunt's house but rather in her garage. She offered the house, but with five family members the Iupatis elected to take the garage instead.

That was quite a change from their life in Samoa, where Iupati's dad was a leading mechanic and his mother worked in his cousin's restaurant. Back there, they had a house and their own land.

"We were a decently well-off family in Samoa. My parents knew there was nothing there – the opportunities were limited – so they wanted us to excel in the U.S.," he said. "So they just dropped everything and moved here."

Still, his parents want to move back there someday, and Iupati would find pleasure in putting his NFL money to work and making that happen.

Once in high school, he realized he had a chance to play football. Despite a laid-back personality off the field, his competitive juices kick in on the field.

"When it comes to football, I like to destroy a lot of people. I just try to be competitive. As big as I am I do not want to get beat," he said. "I don't say much, but when I say stuff I don't usually yell. My friends listen very well."

The Vikings are far from the only team showing interest in Iupati. According to what a source told Steuber, the offensive lineman has had workouts scheduled with the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles this month, as well as visits with the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers leading up to the draft.


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

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