Jake Wieneke, Max Mickey Embracing Opportunity with Minnesota Vikings
Their names weren't called in the NFL Draft, but for two South Dakota college football standouts an opportunity with the Minnesota Vikings has popped up.
South Dakota State's Jake Wieneke and University of Sioux Falls' Max Mickey were both contacted by the Vikings following the NFL Draft. Wieneke signed as an undrafted free agent, while Mickey was invited to rookie minicamp.
We had the opportunity to talk with both standout players on Overtime on Wednesday (May 2). Both were, as expected, very excited to get the phone call and shared as similar experience of keeping calm.
Playing football in the backyard leads to those visions of making that game winning catch for the favorite team. SDSU's Wieneke has the opportunity to compete to actually do that now. A Minnesota native, Wieneke grew up as a Vikings fan and has always been a fan of them.
He talked about how special last season was as a fan, but didn't want to mention how the season concluded. Now just a few months later he's ready to contribute, and his experience at SDSU has prepared him for the NFL.
"The offense that we ran has prepared me. I played in the East-West game and the offense we ran there was very similar to SDSU and the Seahawks offense. All the things I learned from that and the culture we had at SDSU was very professional, so that will all help me."
Wieneke caught 288 passes for 5,157 receiving yards and 59 touchdowns during his career at SDSU.
Mickey says that the process of going from USF to the NFL is a difficult one, but not out of reach.
"First of all we're a small school and people don't expect DII athletes to go that far. There aren't a lot of cases of it, but the goal is obtainable. Look at guys like CJ Ham and Adam Thielen. It just takes a lot of work to get there."
Mickey knows that the odds seem to be stacked against him, and that it might take special teams to help him get to that next level.
"[Special teams] can be huge and can be everything. If that's where they want me at and want me to play for the rest of my career I'd be happy with that. I've done it on scout team and had to step into my role at running back early so I didn't get to see a whole lot of special teams, but it would be nice to be on the other end of the hit."
Mickey ran for 3,720 yards and 44 touchdowns during his time at USF.
Rookie minicamp begins this weekend in Minnesota, while OTA's begins in about three weeks for the Vikings.