INDIANAPOLIS — A pair of offensive tackle prospects with Minnesota connections are hoping to soon make their mark in the NFL.
Trey Pipkins and Donnell Greene each spoke to the media at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday afternoon, detailing their northern ties while also describing how they ended up in Indianapolis.
Pipkins is a 2014 graduate of Apple Valley High School, where he was a standout football and basketball player. He made a bit of history this week as he became the first football player from the University of Sioux Falls to attend the Combine.
Pipkins also played for the West team in the East-West Shrine Game, the same squad that was led by Vikings linebackers coach Adam Zimmer and had other Vikings coaches on staff.
“It was a great opportunity for me coming from a small school to prove that I can hang with bigger and better talent,” Pipkins said. “I was just going out there to try and be my best.”
Pipkins lived in multiple places, including Texas, before moving to Apple Valley in the eighth grade, but he said was a casual fan of the Purple.
“I don’t really have a favorite professional team, but I liked to see them do well,” Pipkins said. “I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard fan.”
“We played in [the Metrodome] in the seventh grade for the state championship for travel football,” Pipkins added. “That’s probably [my favorite memory].”
View NFL Scouting Combine drills with offensive lineman, runnings backs, special teams and place kickers on Friday.
Pipkins said he began his high school career as a 5-foot-11 tight end before a 6-inch growth spurt shifted him to tackle.
He then landed at Sioux Falls, where he was a three-time All-NSIC selection and three-time All-American selection for the Cougars.
Pipkins, who measured in at 6-foot-6 and 309 pounds at the Combine, said he needs to work on his upper body strength going forward. He explained his mindset going into the league.
“Most important quality, you have to be team-first on the offensive line,” Pipkins said. “You can’t be about yourself as an offensive lineman. You don’t do it for the recognition, you do it to get other people that recognition.”
Pipkins still holds his Apple Valley roots close to him, including his relationship with Timberwolves point guard Tyus Jones, who was Pipkins’ high school hoops teammate.
“It was awesome,” Pipkins said of Jones. “He’s a crazy basketball player and is pretty much the reason I got all my points … he attracted so much attention that I was just standing by the hoop alone.”
Pipkins could soon join Jones as a professional athlete, as could former Gophers offensive tackle Donnell Greene.
Greene, who was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2018, is vying to be the first Gophers offensive lineman drafted since 2006.
“It’s crazy … I never thought I’d be in this position, so I’m just blessed and taking it all in,” Greene said about his Combine experience. “With me, I had a different offensive line coach every year at the University of Minnesota, so I was always switching technique and never able to grasp any certain thing I feel like I was good at. I’m excited to be here.”
Greene said he brings an intense attitude to the field, something the Georgia native said was noticed by NFL teams.
“I won’t say what team, but a team said they enjoyed watching my personal fouls, but if they draft me, I have to get that under control,” Greene said. “They liked my physicality. It was kind of weird hearing teams say they liked seeing personal fouls, but I’m not a fan of it anymore and I have to control my emotions.
“At times, I can become a chippy player,” Greene added. “I love leaving it all out on the field.”
Greene, who started 29 of 33 career games in college, isn’t participating in on-field drills in Indianapolis due to an injury, but he said will do them at Minnesota’s Pro Day in the spring.
He did get a crash course on the Combine from Vikings cornerback Jalen Myrick, who participated in the 2017 Combine.
“Jalen said to just lock in and that it was going to be a busy four or five days,” Greene said. ‘I’m just soaking it all in.”