EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings have added to their linebacker corps with a local name.
Minnesota claimed Eden Prairie native Ryan Connelly off waivers Sunday, the team announced. The 24-year-old was released by the Giants as part of their roster reduction Saturday.
A 2019 fifth-round draft pick, Connelly played four games – making three starts – for the Giants last season before suffering a torn ACL. Over those first four outings, he recorded 20 tackles (league stats), a sack and two passes defensed. He also nabbed interceptions off Jameis Winston and Case Keenum in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively.
Connelly's ACL injury ended his rookie campaign, sidelining him just before the Vikings defeated the Giants at New York in Week 5.
In a corresponding move, the Vikings waived linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
View photos of new Vikings LB Ryan Connelly who recently joined the team.
Here are five things to know about Minnesota's newest linebacker:
1. Hometown kid
Connelly attended Eden Prairie High School, where he played for Head Coach Mike Grant, a son of Hall of Fame Coach Bud Grant.
Connelly played QB for the Eagles, throwing for 14 touchdowns and no interceptions as a senior while serving as a team captain. He helped Eden Prairie to the Minnesota Class 6A football state championships as a sophomore, junior and senior.
The multisport athlete also helped the Eagles win the state championship in lacrosse as a junior.
Connelly is one of three Minnesota natives now on the Vikings roster, joining wide receiver Adam Thielen (Detroit Lakes) and fullback C.J. Ham (Duluth).
2. Standout for the Badgers
Connelly played for the Wisconsin Badgers, where he initially joined as a walk-on but earned a scholarship prior to the 2015 season (he redshirted in 2014).
Over 52 games (26 starts) at inside linebacker, Connelly racked up 251 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He was part of a 2018 Badgers class that went 42-12 over their collegiate careers, including a 4-0 bowl record.
Following his senior campaign in which he recorded 3.0 sacks and 10 tackles for loss, Connelly was a Butkus Award (given to the nation's top linebacker) semifinalist. He also was a semifinalist for the the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding FBS college football player who began his career as a walk-on.
3. Combine competitor
Connelly received an invite to the 2019 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where he participated along with former Eden Prairie teammate Blake Cashman.
Connelly clocked in at 4.66 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He recorded a 34.5-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 9 feet, 10 inches. His times in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle were 7.09 seconds and 4.31 seconds, respectively.
"It's been a crazy journey so far, but I'm not looking to stop anytime soon," Connelly said at the combine.
4. Family of athletes
Connelly isn't the only professional athlete in his family, although he's the only one on the gridiron.
His cousin, Anders Lee, is a winger and team captain for the New York Islanders of the NHL. Lee was drafted 151st overall by the Islanders in 2009.
5. Deemed 'most surprising cut' by The Athletic
Although Giants fans only got a four-game sample size of Connelly in the regular season, his waiving in New York is catching many off-guard.
Dan Duggan, who covers the Giants for The Athletic, called Connelly the “biggest cut surprise” when New York's 53-man roster was announced.
"It was an encouraging sign that Connelly didn't open training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but he missed five straight practices early in camp," Duggan wrote.
He added that Connelly "appeared to return to form in recent practices."