EAGAN, Minn. – Safety Myles Dorn knew exactly who his new teammates were before "meeting" them during the Vikings virtual offseason program.
Dorn watched Minnesota safeties Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris from afar during his time at North Carolina. After being signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent this spring, he gleaned all he could from the duo through a computer screen.
Now, he'll finally join them in the Vikings backfield. Rookies, quarterbacks and select players are scheduled to report today, and remaining veterans are scheduled to arrive July 28.
Dorn spoke with Twin Cities media members via video conference in May and said he watched "a lot" of Vikings film during his time with the Tar Heels.
View photos of the Vikings 2020 undrafted free agents.
"I'm a big fan of Harrison Smith," he said. "That's somebody I've watched throughout my college career. And then Anthony Harris is a guy that I kind of knew about just because of his story."
While Dorn didn't seek out Harris' tape, he couldn't help but be impressed by the dynamic defender whenever he turned on Vikings games to watch Smith.
"The more and more that I watched, the more and more I gravitated toward watching him, as well," Dorn said of Harris. "So it's kind of crazy that I get the opportunity to be in the same meeting room with them and being on the same team just because I kind of knew about those guys before even coming into this situation."
Football is part of Dorn's bloodline.
His father, Torin, also played defensive back at North Carolina and was drafted by the Raiders in 1990. Torin spent five seasons in Los Angeles (the last was on Injured Reserve) and another two with the St. Louis Rams.
Dorn told reporters that he and his father had lengthy conversations about understanding the NFL is a job and treating it as such. He's been able to learn the ropes and glean advice from Torin during an unprecedented offseason that, due to COVID-19, hasn't yet given teams the opportunity to officially meet in-person.
When Minnesota kicks off Verizon Vikings Training Camp, however, Dorn will be able to learn on-field from Smith and Harris.
Dorn most admires Smith's mentality and approach to the game.
"He's really smart, just knowing how to disguise the coverage. He's not in a rush," Dorn said. "Some players are really antsy to get here and there. He's really patient in what he does.
"You can tell he has a great feel for the game and he knows where he's supposed to be," Dorn added.
Smith is entering his ninth NFL season; he has 113 regular-season starts, All-Pro honors (2017) and five consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl under his belt. When it comes to accolades, he isn't lacking.
And yet, being looked up to by a young athlete like Dorn speaks almost louder than trophies to Smith, who called it "a really big compliment … more so than a lot of other things." He added with a laugh that even being the highly touted player he is, he sometimes forgets the number of seasons he's stacked behind his name.
"I'm always just focused on the next year," Smith said. "Sometimes people ask how long I've played, and I'm always thinking like, 'I don't know, I guess I'm on year three or four.' So I guess I don't realize my age within the game.
"Even my little brother was playing at Furman, and his coach was showing clips of NFL players doing different turns, and I was on one of them, and I was laughing. I just never thought – that's just funny to me," Smith continued. "But it also means I need to live up to that standard. [Myles has] seen me on film and thinks one way of me, and obviously if he's going to continue to watch that film, he thinks it's pretty good, so I can't disappoint him in real life. That's kind of how I take those things. To me, that's the biggest compliment you can get."
While Dorn has watched Smith's tape for years, he's now become equally familiar with Harris' NFL journey from undrafted free agent to a full-time starter who last season tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions.
Dorn called Harris' story a major source of motivation.
"Because you've seen it happen from that organization. Coming in undrafted, [all you're looking for] is hope," Dorn said. "To see somebody on that team that has kind of walked the same path that you're trying to walk, it's motivating."
Harris concurred with Smith that being looked to as an example is praise not to be taken lightly. The 29-year-old recalled joining the Vikings practice squad in 2015 and himself using Adam Thielen's journey as inspiration.
Reflecting back on where he started, Harris said it's fuel to work even harder.
"To know that you're motivating somebody else … I think that's what makes you want to keep doing it and keep putting together those good performances," Harris said. "I kind of looked at Adam and his path and how he did it, so I had my own mindset where I wanted to go and what I would do to get there.
"But it does help a little bit when you can take a peek up now and again and think, 'OK, this person did it; I can do it.' And then just figure it out and do it your own way," Harris added.
Dorn knows he'll have his work cut out for him.
It's a challenge he's ready to face head-on, though, while learning from two of the NFL's best safeties.
"As a kid, you have this dream of getting drafted, and so if I said I wasn't disappointed I'd be lying to you," Dorn said. "[But] not getting drafted, I think it was a blessing in disguise more than anything. The right situation, I think the best situation, I got to choose where I came. I think I'm in a good fit. I can't be more proud of the way that it's played out up to this point – and just being able to have the opportunity to show off your talents is all I really needed."