EAGAN, Minn. – Coming from a talented offensive line at Oklahoma, it was tough for Dru Samia to return to "square one" and learn an NFL offense.
The rookie guard is feeling much more comfortable now, however, and said the mentality he developed with the Sooners best-prepared him for the transition to Minnesota.
"It kind of took a little bit to bring out the aggression and really how to play football from the mentality standpoint, and now that I have that foundation, it's easy to build off of," Samia said. "All I need to focus on is, really, the playbook and the techniques. As far as playing with an edge, that's gonna be there."
Samia is grateful for the "balance" that football has brought to his life.
Looking back on his formative years, Samia described his younger self as "just a kid who couldn't sit down and shut up" in the classroom, but football provided him with a productive way to channel that energy.
He now says his off-field demeanor, more laid-back in nature, goes "hand-in-hand" with the intensity that naturally kicks into gear on the gridiron.
Samia is part of a Vikings offensive line room that reflects that contrast.
While Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer likes his offensive linemen to have a nasty, gritty edge in the trenches, an equal emphasis is put on bringing in high-character players.
"There's a real positive mindset behind this room. When a good play gets done, there's a lot of compliments. There's a lot of self-coaching going on with the players, not just the coach," Samia said. "This organization has done a great job of establishing a great culture as far as people who want to get better and people who want to come out and work hard every single day."
Part of the mentality comes from the Vikings new offensive line coach, Rick Dennison. Samia said the position coach demands a lot from his players but also is naturally more low-key.
"He is very understanding, he knows that there's growing pains with an offensive line, but at the same time, he can step it up really quick," he explained. "If you mess up something that we literally just went over, he's not gonna be that understanding coach that he is in the film room.
"I think he has a really good balance of intensity [as well as] man-to-man respect," Samia added.
Here are three other topics Samia covered with Vikings.com:
1. Growing up in California, what was the biggest change when you moved to Oklahoma for college?
"It was completely different. In Northern California, there wasn't a lot of emphasis put on football. …. But coming to Oklahoma, everybody knows what's going on, everybody knows the players on and off the field. The amount of importance that the community, as a whole, places on football would probably be the biggest difference."
2. What is the best piece of advice you've been given?
"On the field, the best advice that I've ever gotten was from [Sooners offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh]: 'Effort and mentality is going to make up for any technical mistake that you make.' If you go out there and mess up, you better mess up at full speed. It kind of echoes some of the stuff that [Dennison has] been saying here. It's just good to know that that kind of advice holds true for us."
3. Who were your favorite NFL players to watch?
"My favorite player growing up was A.J. Green; he was just super talented, super smooth. But once I started becoming a student of my craft, it was Zach Martin that I followed the most. And then later into my college years, I started following Marshal Yanda. He does a lot of savvy things, he's super aggressive and has almost perfect technique. Watching guys like that, trying to emulate them, I think it's really good."