Football is the Shuler family business

Vikings seventh-round draft pick Mickey Shuler has a lot to prove when he arrives in Minnesota. Not only is he fighting to win a roster spot but uphold the family legacy begun by his father.

Vikings seventh-round draft pick Mickey Shuler is a tight end looking to fulfill a family legacy. If his name sounds familiar, it should. His father, Mickey Shuler Sr., had a 14-year NFL career – playing with the Jets and Eagles from 1978-91. The younger Shuler said the prospect of playing with Brett Favre, who was a rookie in the final season his dad played in the NFL, would be a thrill.

"It's a great feeling," Shuler said. "I couldn't be more excited about the chance to play in the NFL to a team like Minnesota with great players – legends like Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson. I grew up idolizing Brett Favre and here I get to go to the team he plays for. I'd love to play with him if he comes back."

Coming from a strong NFL bloodline, there may have been the inclination for the elder Shuler to push his son into the family business. But the younger Shuler said it wasn't the case – his dad offered advice when asked, but never pressed the issue.

"A lot of people ask me if he pushed me (into football)," Shuler said. "He did really encourage me to do what I wanted to do and play sports. He really helped me through the whole process and anything I needed to learn from him or anything I need to ask him about any situation – whether it was about life or on the football field – he was able to answer it the best he could and usually it worked."

Shuler played his college ball for one of the premier football programs in the country under Joe Paterno at Penn State. But his role with the Nittany Lions was to be more of a glorified offensive lineman, despite coming to PSU with the credentials of being a strong receiver. However, he caught just 27 passes in 41 career games and feels he was never afforded the chance to showcase his receiving skills.

"At Penn State, I wasn't used to my strengths as much as I should have been as far as receiving," Shuler said. "I came a long way in the blocking end up at Penn State. The receiving end is more natural to me – that's one part of my game I'm comfortable with. Blocking is also a strength. I'm kind of that ‘old-school' tight end like my dad that can do both. I can do a little bit of everything."

Shuler believes the Vikings are a great fit for him because of the combination of a power running game and an offensive system that throws a lot to its tight ends, especially in the red zone. If given a choice, there weren't many teams (if any) he would have preferred to draft him more than the Vikings.

"I really couldn't have picked a much better situation," Shuler said. "They definitely use their tight ends a lot and open up the offense. And when you have a running back like Adrian Peterson, that really makes a defense play honest. That opens up your passing game and I'm a tight end that can get down the middle. That's a recipe for a great offense."

With veterans like Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser and Jeff Dugan likely to lock down three roster spots at tight end, Shuler knows he will be facing a tough battle to earn one of the 53 roster spots available, but said he is willing to put in the time and energy to get the job done and take his place in the Shuler family business.

"I'm a hard worker," Shuler said. "I don't take ‘no' for an answer. It's been my dream my whole life to make the NFL. It's the start to a new beginning. It's a long process to get here, but now I'm at the bottom of the mountain and I have to climb to the top."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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