EAGAN, Minn. – Two players participating in Vikings rookie minicamp this weekend are working for a chance to join their older brothers on Minnesota’s 2019 roster.
Mar’Sean Diggs, a younger brother of receiver Stefon Diggs, is among the group of players invited to the three-day camp on a tryout basis. Tito Odenigbo, the younger brother of defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent.
Mar’Sean told Twin Cities media members Friday that he and Stefon have spent the offseason working out together.
“[Stefon] helped my feet a lot. We’ve been training together since February,” Mar’Sean said. “We actually had time with him being home and me being out of college. I was training for the NFL, so we’d train every day. He’s helped my feet a lot … but obviously I think they can get faster. I’m going to continue to work at it.”
Mar’Sean and Tito credited their brothers with giving them advice for their time in Minnesota this weekend.
View images from the first rookie minicamp practice at the TCO Performance Center on May 3.
“Keep my head down and work and stay quiet,” Mar’Sean relayed of Stefon’s words of wisdom. “Pay attention to everything that’s going on, take coaching, keep my playbook with me at all times.”
Ifeadi handed out similar advice.
“Don’t mess up,” Tito said with a laugh. “No, he just said, ‘Train hard, work hard and be confident in yourself. Everything should pan out.’
“In his own spazzy way,” Tito added, sliding in a sibling dig.
While the Odenigbo brothers both play defensive line, Mar’Sean plays on the opposite side of the ball from Stefon.
The younger Diggs played safety for the University of Alabama – Birmingham, where he spent the past two seasons. Over 26 games with the Blazers, Mar’Sean totaled 99 tackles (68 solo), three interceptions, 3.5 tackles for loss, five passes broken up and a forced fumble.
When asked what stands out about Minnesota’s defense, Mar’Sean pointed to All-Pro safety Harrison Smith, entering his eighth season in Purple.
“Watching Harrison Smith and how he plays,” Mar’Sean said. “And then just the coverages and everything and how they do things here, it fits because some of the terminology is the same from college.
“I didn’t know I was going to come here, honestly,” Mar’Sean said. “When my agent called me and told me I had a tryout here, I was excited about, number one, the opportunity to make a team because that’s all I ever wanted, was to play in the NFL. Having the opportunity now means the world to me.”
Tito is also grateful for the chance to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.
The defensive tackle, who transferred to Miami after three seasons at Illinois, joked on Twitter about “riding my brother’s coattail my whole life” but took a more serious tone about his path.
“It’s kind of like a motivation,” Tito said. “My brother did a lot of things at Northwestern, he went through a lot of adversity, as well, and watching my brother do all the things he did at Northwestern kind of made it a stepping stone for me.
“It’s always fun playing with your brother; I haven’t played with him since high school,” Tito added. “It’s very exciting, and I’m very honored to be here.”
Tito and Ifeadi’s parents, Linda and Thomas, immigrated to America from Nigeria in the early 90s, and the brothers didn’t start playing football until a later age. And while it took a bit of convincing for Linda to allow her sons to play the sport that has now opened doors for them both, the Odenigbos have since become more of a football family.
Tito quipped that his parents celebrated the potential of traveling to just one city to watch their sons play.
“They’re going to save a lot of money on plane tickets. I know my mom and dad are very excited about that,” he laughed. “My mom was ecstatic. Being the younger one, I think she always worries about me the most, and since Ifeadi’s the favorite, she just loves that the favorite is taking care of the younger child. They’re very excited.”
Tito is looking forward to learning from Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson, whom he’s gotten to know a little bit through Ifeadi.
“I know he’s a good coach,” Tito said. “I mean, Ifeadi’s a hard critic, as you can imagine. Ifeadi’s very hard to please, and he definitely has good things to say about Coach Dre. So that being said, it’s kind of cool.”
When Tito hits the field with Ifeadi for organized team activity practices, which will kick off on May 20, does he expect some friendly sibling rivalry?
“Ifeadi is Ifeadi,” Tito said, flashing a grin. “So there’s always going to be competition between us.”