It's well-known that Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen is a proud graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato.
But Thielen won't be the only former Mavericks football player on the field Sunday in Jacksonville.
Jaguars left guard Chris Reed played with Thielen for two years in Mankato.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune caught up with the former Mavericks to chronicle their journey to the NFL and what Sunday will be like.
Thielen and Reed were starters together in 2011 and 2012, when the Mavericks went 14-1 en route to the national championship game. Thielen made the Vikings practice squad the following fall and has improved each season to become one of the team's most valued receivers. He's third in catches (52) and second in receiving yards (657) and touchdown catches (three).
"Going to a D-II school, I didn't have aspirations of being where I am today," Reed said. "So Adam was my hero. I wanted to follow him to the NFL. After I saw him do it, it gave me more confidence that I could do it because it's crazy that Adam was a D-II walk-on who just kept working, became our best receiver and then a starter in the NFL."
Like Thielen, Reed went undrafted even though, as Thielen put it, "Chris dominated that left side and no one had a chance of getting around him." The 6-5, 310-pounder spent his 2015 rookie season on Jacksonville's practice squad. Injuries have forced him into the starting lineup three times this season, including the past two games. He'll start at left guard Sunday against the Vikings.
Mavericks coach Todd Hoffner told Craig he'll be keeping a close eye on two of his former standouts Sunday in Jacksonville.
"Everybody should epitomize how they do things," Hoffner said. "They're the poster children for our program and what I think all schools at any level should want in players who represent them."
Hunter earns weekly MMQB honor
Defensive end Danielle Hunter had 2.0 sacks Thursday against Dallas and leads the Vikings with 9.5 sacks on the season.
Hunter's performance against the Cowboys earned him some recognition from Peter King of The Monday Morning Quarterback, as the former LSU Tiger was named as one of King's Defensive Players of the Week.
Wait, *you say. Vikings lost. Indeed: Dallas, 17, Minnesota 15. But did you see that defense? Specifically, that defensive front? Dallas had 13 first downs, 264 yards and just 124 net passing yards from the quarterback who's taken the league by storm. Hunter (two sacks), fifth in the league with 9.5 sacks, has emerged as a threat as consistent and dangerous as teammate Everson Griffen. Hunter's play caving in the pocket Thursday night tells me that if the Vikings get in the playoffs (which is looking unlikely at 6-6), that defensive front is going to make life miserable for even a good offensive line and quarterback.*
Hunter was second among all rookies with 6.0 sacks last season and has the most sacks (15.5) out of any player selected in the 2015 NFL Draft.