The Vikings interior of the offensive line might be more likely to grapple with Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, but right tackle T.J. Clemmings already will know how it feels.
The Vikings rookie roomed with Donald two years while they played at the University of Pittsburgh.
"We wrestled a lot and just did what college guys do, said Clemmings, who arrived on campus in 2010, the same year as Donald. "We won a couple of wrestling matches against other teammates, raided a couple of rooms back in the day. We would even wrestle each other sometimes."
How was your record, T.J.?
"It got better over the years," Clemmings said with a laugh.
Clemmings began with the Panthers on the defensive line and played there in 2010 and 2012. He switched to offensive line in 2013, while Donald played four straight years, before earning an invite to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.
After being drafted 13th overall in 2014, Donald was selected to the Pro Bowl and named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Football Writers Association Defensive Rookie of the Year due in large part to Donald's unique blend of strength and exceptional quickness.
Vikings analyst Pete Bercich joined "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen for a Vikings GamePlan segment that broke down Donald's effectiveness.
"This guy is amazing with the way he can get off the football," Bercich said while analyzing a clip against Cleveland. "As soon as that football moves, he's already past the center. The center doesn't have a chance."
While he was still at Pittsburgh, Clemmings developed on the offensive line, feeling like he became more aggressive with the position switch and blossoming as a senior. He also stayed connected to Donald as Clemmings was invited to events for top prospects.
"I spoke to him pretty much the whole year, just asking him what he was going through, experiencing and things like that," Clemmings said. "I would ask him about the Senior Bowl, the Combine. He was able to give me some encouraging words and definitely being the friend he is."
Drafted in the fourth round, Clemmings was inserted into the starting lineup after a season-ending Achilles injury suffered by Phil Loadholt during the preseason. Clemmings is prepared to make his eighth start when the Rams (4-3) visit the Vikings (5-2) at noon (CT) Sunday.
Clemmings and the offensive line helped the Vikings run the ball effectively, with just one rush going for negative yards, and allowed just one sack of Teddy Bridgewater in Chicago.
Now they'll face a defensive line with five first-round picks, including Donald.
"His personality and his play are too different things," Clemmings said. "Off the field, he's one of the funniest guys, hardworking and humble, but on the field, he's a dog."