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Shane Zylstra 'Blessed' & Excited to Join Vikings as Tight End

EAGAN, Minn. — Shane Zylstra took in the scene.

It was summer of 2017. On the same field at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he was about to commence his sophomore season with the Mavericks, the Vikings were going through a training camp practice.

"It was cool to see them in our stadium and how professionals really worked," Zylstra said Wednesday.

Now, the Spicer, Minnesota, native — "he's one of us" — is one of them.

Zylstra on Friday signed with the Vikings, becoming the second pass catcher out of Minnesota State on the roster and second member of his family to ink a deal with his home-state team.

Instead of joining Adam Thielen in the receivers room where Zylstra's brother Brandon was in 2018, Shane will be down the hall in the tight ends room at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

View photos of Minnesota State Mankato TE Shane Zylstra who recently signed with the team.

"Just blessed. I'm blessed to be in my home state and, kind of, my hometown. It's just nice to be playing for the home team," Shane said. "I grew up a Vikings fan, a Randy Moss fan, Cris Carter fan, so it's kind of surreal to be in this building."

Shane set Mavericks single-season records with 81 catches for 1,676 yards and 18 touchdowns while starting all 15 games of the 2019 season and put himself atop the school's career leaderboard by finishing with 227 catches, 4,297 yards and 54 touchdown catches. He also was named to the All-Decade Second Team.

Brandon, who played at Concordia-Moorhead and in the CFL before getting his first NFL shot with Minnesota, appeared in 16 games for the Vikings in 2018. His lone catch for Minnesota (on just two targets) gained 23 yards in a win against the Jets in New York. He joined Carolina in 2019 and remains with the Panthers.

Shane said Brandon's advice was, "Take in the moment, treat every day like a professional. Be excited and give it your all."

Shane, who was listed by the Mavericks at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, said he's gained about 15 pounds by increasing caloric intake with bigger meals and eating more frequently, but he has remained on a "pretty clean" diet.

He's also enlisted the help of former Gophers tight end MarQueis Gray, who played for the Browns (2013), Vikings (2014), Bills (2014-15) and Dolphins (2016-17), during workouts at Training HAUS, which is just across TCO Stadium from the Vikings headquarters.

Shane said he's looking forward to working with tight ends coach Brian Pariani to learn more about the tight end position.

He is scheduled to join Minnesota's 11-member draft class, which includes tight end Zach Davidson, 11 undrafted rookie free agents and up to five other players invited on a tryout basis for rookie minicamp. The first practice of rookie minicamp will be May 14.

Shane said it will be "surreal" to head from the locker room to the practice fields.

"I came from a school of Purple and Gold, so we're kind of similar there, but with the Vikings logo, it's just going to be a very proud moment," Shane said.