View images of Vikings new QB Mitch Leidner from his days with the Minnesota Gophers.
The Vikings on Sunday announced the signing of quarterback Mitch Leidner and the release of linebacker Darnell Sankey.
Leidner joins a quarterbacks unit that includes Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke on the active roster while Teddy Bridgewater remains on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List.
The Vikings (1-1 in the preseason) are scheduled to face the San Francisco 49ers in the third exhibition contest for both teams on Sunday, Aug. 27 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Here are five things to know about the newest Viking, a native of Lakeville, Minnesota:
1. While at Lakeville South
Leidner led Lakeville South High School to a 15-7 mark during his junior and senior seasons and he helped the Cougars win the 2010 section championship as a junior when he passed for 2,096 yards and 17 touchdowns. He followed by passing for 1,872 yards and 20 scores as a senior. Leidner was twice named honorable mention all-state, and he was all-conference in basketball as a junior.
2. Dual threat with the Golden Gophers
The Star Tribune *reported in 2011 that Leidner's performance in a 7-on-7 passing tournament led to a scholarship offer* **from the University of Minnesota. Leidner played for former head coaches Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys during his time with the Golden Gophers. He finished his college career second in school history in completions (580) and attempts (1,029), third in passing yards (7,287) and fifth in passing touchdowns (36).
Leidner is the only quarterback in Gophers history to pass and rush for 30 or more touchdowns. His 33 rushing touchdowns are the most in school history by a quarterback, and his 1,495 rushing yards are the third-most by a quarterback. Leidner appeared in 47 games and started 41. He went 24-17 as a starter.
Leidner was teammates at Minnesota with Isaac Fruechte and becomes the third former Gopher on the Vikings roster, along with Marcus Sherels.
3. Combine performance
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Leidner was able to showcase his athleticism at the NFL Combine as a top-performing quarterback in several on-field timing and testing drills.
Among quarterbacks, his vertical jump (34.5 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 3 inches) ranked second, his time in the 3-cone drill (6.96 seconds) ranked sixth, and his time in the 20-yard shuttle (4.25) tied for fourth.
4. Stints with other NFL teams
Leidner was not selected in this year's NFL Draft, but he was invited to the Baltimore Ravens rookie minicamp. He also had workouts with Jacksonville and Detroit.
5. Another Vikings connection
Leidner has been able to build a relationship with former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon, who won the 2002 NFL MVP with Oakland.
In advance of Leidner helping Gannon at a football camp on June 20, the Jordan Independent ran a story about the budding relationship.
"I was out in Eden Prairie training and I was looking for a guy who could help me with the Xs and the Os. Someone to help workout with, watch how I perform and tell me how to get better. ... Rich was willing to help me without skipping a beat," Leidner said.
"He knows the West Coast Offense, and he's really helped me pick that up. All of the terminology we worked on during the winter, when I got into mini-camp with the Ravens and Jaguars, I was very easy to pick-up their playbooks," he added. "Rich never lets you slip up. Whether a ball is six inches [too] high, he's letting you know every time."