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Having Slept Near Grizzlies, Overbaugh Prepared to Face Bears


EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Jeff Overbaugh didn't have any problem camping with grizzly bears, and he's not any more fearful of the variety he'll be facing at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

The long snapper participated in his first practice Wednesday since signing with the Vikings in the wake of Kevin McDermott suffering a shoulder injury at Green Bay. McDermott expressed optimism for rehabbing and being able to return for the playoffs.

Overbaugh has bounced around to a few different teams since joining the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2016, but he does have quite the résumé. The long snapper came out of San Diego State with a perfect collegiate career, having gone 134-for-134 on PATs, 55-for-55 on field goal attempts and 164-for-164 on punts.

In his NFL Draft profile, Overbaugh's only "weakness" was listed as having camped with Kodiak bears.

Overbaugh, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, set the record straight for Twin Cities media members on Wednesday.

"That was a little mix-up," the 24-year-old said. "It [wasn't] Kodiaks, but they were still grizzly bears."

Overbaugh explained that he camped at Katmai National Park and Preserve, a scenic and popular destination for hikers and photographers. He slept in an electric fence enclosure designed to keep campers safe from the powerful animals.

"Who knows how close they were – but hopefully they weren't in the enclosure," Overbaugh quipped.

When asked by a reporter if he has other "thrill-seeking" hobbies or interests, Overbaugh chuckled.

"Honestly, it's not really for a thrill. It's just to be outside, man, outdoors," he said. "It's a great place to be. I like being in the outdoors, so I wouldn't say it's a thrill-seeking activity. It's just to be outside."

Overbaugh hasn't spent much time camping over the past two years, however, as he's committed himself to perfecting his craft, working out and waiting for an opportunity.

His more recent stop was playing in a preseason game with Chicago, and since then he has been working to stay in shape. In addition to running, lifting and stretching, Overbaugh specifically focuses on snapping reps – "no more than 40 or 50 a day" – three days a week.

Overbaugh was watching the Vikings-Packers game on Saturday night and saw McDermott leave the game with an injury. When he received a call to come and try out the following day, he was ready.

He added that it's been a whirlwind of activity since arriving at Winter Park on Tuesday but that McDermott has made himself available for anything Overbaugh might need, and he plans to "definitely follow through with that."

Getting a shot on an NFL's 53-man roster has been the ultimate goal for Overbaugh, whose journey as a long snapper began as a youngster playing Pop Warner football.

On the first day of practice, the first position up for grabs by the youth league coach was center.

"I guess my hand shot straight up in the air," Overbaugh recalled with a laugh. "And as my dad tells the story, he goes, 'No! Quarterback! Quarterback!' "

But Overbaugh remained at center, and at the level where teams began to punt, he assumed the long snapping duties.

The rest, as they say, is history.

"It was obviously, at first, just an attempt to help my teams execute a play," Overbaugh said. "And then kind of found out [there are] guys who get opportunities at the next level for it, and I pursued it."

Even understanding that McDermott's absence may be brief, Overbaugh is excited to be on the Vikings roster and prepping for this weekend's game against the Bears. He also is grateful to be working with Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer, whom he first met in Mobile, Alabama, at the Reese's Senior Bowl in 2016.

"I had known him from that experience and obviously know his and his father's history," Overbaugh said. "So I'm definitely aware of that and thankful for the opportunity and him and the staff bringing me in. Thanks to him and Coach Zim', definitely.

"It definitely means a lot," Overbaugh said. "It's a great opportunity. I'm really happy to be here and be with such a great team going down the stretch."

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