View images of the Vikings participating at Thursday's Pro Bowl practice in Orlando, Flordia.
It’s safe to say that Danielle Hunter has impressed fans, teammates and coaches alike since the Vikings snagged him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The rest of the football world has taken notice, too.
After a career performance in 2018 in which Hunter tallied 14.5 sacks – tying with Von Miller for fourth in the NFL – the defensive end received his first Pro Bowl nod.
Although disappointed about the way Minnesota’s season came to an abrupt close short of the postseason, Hunter is grateful for a chance to learn from talented players from across the league. He also appreciates sharing the week in Orlando with teammates Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith and Anthony Barr.
“Just being able to sit and talk with them and having the experience together … it’s been fun,” Hunter said. “During the season we had our ups and downs, but coaches, the fans and players voted us here, so we’re really thankful for that.”
Smith, who will make his fourth consecutive appearance in the all-star game, said it was “big” to see Hunter make this year’s NFC roster.
“He could have been here before, and I’m sure he’ll be back plenty of times,” Smith said. “He’s a beast. He’s a freak. Everybody sees what he does. So it’s good to see him kind of getting that recognition.”
Hunter said he received some advice from Smith and other Vikings teammates who have been to the Pro Bowl previously, and all of them reminded the 24-year-old to have fun.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive end Danielle Hunter and safety Harrison Smith took part in Wednesday's Pro Bowl practice from Orlando, Florida.
He certainly plans to, not only during the week’s practice and Sunday’s game but in playing a little “tourist,” as well. Hunter is looking forward to visiting Disney World, although he explained that it won’t be his first time at the theme park.
“I came here a few years ago with Linval [Joseph, and] that was one of the most exciting parts of the trip,” Hunter said.
Over the first two days of Pro Bowl practices, Hunter showed love to the fans. He called it a “good feeling” to see so many Purple jerseys and specifically those with 99 on the back.
He was especially struck by one fan who had traveled from Katy, Texas, where Hunter grew up after moving to the States from Jamaica when he was 8.
“I got to talk to them a little bit. That means a lot to me to know that fans come from my hometown all the way to Orlando to support us,” Hunter said. “It means a lot to just come out here and represent the team. Not only that but also represent my family and [everyone] I’ve been playing for these past [four] years. I think that means a lot to those people I’ve been with.”