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Lunchbreak: ESPN Tabs Hunter as 1 of Division's Top Rising Stars

NFC North quarterbacks could be seeing a lot of Danielle Hunter over the next decade or so.

The Vikings defensive end is entering his third season and seems to be on the path to success as he's already racked up 18.5 career sacks.

The quartet of ESPN beat writers who cover the NFC North were asked which player in the division is a rising star, and Hunter's name was mentioned.

Vikings reporter Ben Goessling said it's hard not to like the former third-round pick out of LSU.

Goessling wrote:

I'll stay home for this one and name a pass-rusher whom NFC North quarterbacks will worry about for years: Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter. The 22-year-old tied for third in the league last year with 12.5 sacks … he could be in line to do even more damage this year. He'll line up at left end, with teams already worrying about Everson Griffen on the right side, and Hunter will match up against a number of right tackles who simply can't handle his combination of speed and power. The 6-foot-5 end was outrunning defensive backs while training with Adrian Peterson last summer, and his 34 1/2-inch arms allow him to put offensive linemen on skates pretty quickly. He didn't go to the Pro Bowl a year ago, but he's attracting enough attention to be in line to make the team this year.

Hunter played 600 defensive snaps in 2016, which accounted for 58 percent of the Vikings total defensive snaps. The Texas native lined up with Minnesota's first-team defense during offseason practices.

Smith happy to be in Minnesota

Harrison Smith is giving back this summer.

The Vikings safety will host a youth football camp at Ausburg College on July 20, but recently held a similar camp in his home state of Tennessee.

Dave Link of the *Knoxville News Sentinel of the USA TODAY *Netword caught up with Smith and chatted about how's he made Minnesota his home as he enters his sixth NFL season.

Smith was born and raised in Knoxville, but he couldn't be happier with life in Minnesota.

"I don't want to play for another team, ever," Smith said last week at the Smith & Smith youth football camp at his alma mater, Catholic High School. "I want to be a Viking for life, and I want to bring a championship to the city and the franchise."

Ranked as the No. 74 player on the NFL Network's Top 100 list, Smith had 104 total tackles (according to coaches' tally) and added four tackles for loss with 2.0 sacks and a fumble recovery in 2016.

Smith has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons. In 2016, Smith started the first 12 games before leaving the Week 13 game against Dallas with an ankle injury, which caused him to miss two games. He returned for the last two and played in the Pro Bowl.

"A lot of people don't want to play in the Pro Bowl, but I think it's an honor," Smith said.

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