With the 2020 NFL Draft just around the corner, it's front-of-mind that not every player drafted will hail from a college football powerhouse.
ESPN recently reminded that former players such as Bears running back Walter Payton (Jackson State) and 49ers receiver Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) started at small schools and made it all the way to Canton, Ohio. ESPN asked its 32 beat reporters to select the best "small-college stud" to have played for each team.
For the Vikings, Courtney Cronin highlighted Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, who played at Marshall University before Minnesota drafted him 21st overall in 1998. Cronin wrote:
By way of Notre Dame and Florida State, the Hall of Fame wide receiver's collegiate career truly began at Marshall in 1996. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1997 and was a first-round draft pick by the Vikings in 1998. Moss is one of the greatest wide receivers ever, ranking second on the NFL's all-time touchdown receptions list with 157, sixth in all-time receiving yards with 15,292 and 10thin all-time receptions with 954. He earned NFL offensive rookie of the year honors, led the league in receiving five times, was a four-time first-team All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowler and, as of two years ago, a Hall of Famer. His style of play even made way for a football-centric verb based on his last name.
And while you'd be pretty silly to argue with Cronin on this one, we'd be remiss if we didn't recognize another small-college stud in current Vikings receiver Adam Thielen.
Thielen played collegiately at Minnesota State University, Mankato, a Division II school – and the only program to offer him a scholarship.
You know the story by now – Thielen made the Vikings roster in 2013 after impressing as a tryout player at rookie minicamp. He became a full-time starter in 2017, which also was the year he earned his first career Pro Bowl nod.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Rudolph giving back to hometown healthcare workers
In March, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph kicked off the Rudy's Meal Plan campaign, which thus far has raised more than $80,000 for the Twin Cities community in partnership with Second Harvest Heartland.
He also is giving back to his hometown of Cincinnati during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Cincinnati news station WLWT5, Rudolph is doing so through the Jet's Pizza (Delhi location) that he took ownership of last year.
The Jet's Pizza employees dropped off 20 large pizzas to The Christ Hospital nurses and staff on Monday, and on Saturday, Rudolph said more than 150 doctors and nurses will receive a meal.
Regina Schupe, Executive Director of Patient and Guest Services for The Christ Hospital Health Network, said that Rudolph's efforts help to uplift the medical personnel.
"They see that people care about them, know that they're going through something extraordinary, and it makes them feel like we're in it together," Schupe told WLWT5.
According to the story, Rudolph's restaurant will give 20 percent of its daily proceeds each Monday to Freestore Foodbank, which helps to combat food insecurity in the community.
Peterson ranked in Top 10 of All-Decade Team
Earlier this week, two former Vikings – running back Adrian Peterson and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson – were announced as part of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.
NFL.com's Adam Rank then evaluated the full All-Decade Team and ranked all 52 players who were named to the roster. The team had 53 positions, but Darren Sproles was selected for an offensive flex position and punt returner. Rank wrote:
My rankings criteria involved accounting for the major accolades the All-Decade Team members earned from 2010 to '19 – All-Pros, Pro Bowls, MVPs, Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards, etc. – combined with their respective impact on the game, something I admit is far less objective and harder to measure.
Peterson made Rank's top 10, landing at No. 8 overall.
While it's difficult for a running back to maintain a high level of success for an entire decade, Peterson came pretty close; he averaged at least 4.2 yards per carry in each of the seven seasons since 2010 in which he had at least 200 carries. He led the NFL in rushing twice, including in 2012, when he ran for 2,097 yards and became only the third non-QB to win MVP in the last 20 seasons. That the man they call All Day is still productive at age 35 is both surprising and totally inevitable.
The only players ranked ahead of Peterson were, from 7-1, QB Aaron Rodgers, T Joe Thomas, LB Luke Kuechly, DE J.J. Watt, DT Aaron Donald, LB Von Miller and QB Tom Brady.
Patterson was 31st on Rank's list.
Seems strange to have Patterson higher on this list than [Devin] Hester, but CP was fantastic during the decade. Despite getting a late start, he ranked first in kick return yards (6,101), TDs (seven) and average (29.9 yards, min. 20 returns) during the 10-year period.