EAGAN, Minn. – T.J. Hockenson truly looked the part.
His blonde mustache looks rather Viking-esque; and had he unwrapped his shoulder-length hair from the bun, Hockenson's profile would have mimicked the Norseman logo behind him on a purple backdrop.
The 25-year-old had been in Minnesota less than 24 hours when he spoke to Twin Cities media for the first time since being acquired by the Vikings via trade.
Hockenson's smile said it all.
I mean, the record speaks for itself. He woke up Tuesday morning as part of a 1-6 Lions team and went to bed that evening 6-1.
"I'm super excited to be here. I'm just excited to [be] a piece in this puzzle," Hockenson said. "A lot of good guys around here. This facility is beautiful, so I'm just excited to be here, man. There's nowhere I'd rather be."
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell spoke with Hockenson Tuesday after the transaction and said it was "really fun" executing a mid-season trade of this magnitude.
"The idea of bringing in a player like T.J., a Pro Bowl-caliber player to a team that's 6-1 right now [is exciting]," O'Connell said. "I think his teammates are really excited to have him here, I know we are as a coaching staff, and now he's ready to hit the ground running."
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said he believes Hockenson will be a great addition to the team.
"It's important that you get the right fit, the right kind of player. You don't just make the move to make the move," Cousins said. "You make one that you feel will actually make a difference.
"It's early right now, but I definitely feel that he's a good fit," Cousins added. "He can really help us and fit well in what you can do, as an offense, from his position. Now the work begins for all of us on offense – coaches, players – kinda getting him comfortable to where we can make up a lot of time."
Though Hockenson didn't know Cousins at a personal level before joining the Vikings, his first impressions of the veteran QB included "great dude" and a strong communicator.
Hockenson said Cousins is the type of teammate who's great for the locker room and is a skilled leader.
"That's really what we're here to do, is go somewhere and win some games. That's kind of the first time I've been able to say that," Hockenson said. "It's cool to be here. It's cool to have him at QB. I know what he can bring to the table. We were always worried about him on the other side of the ball, so just super excited, for sure."
He's also looking forward to working with O'Connell, who helped lead former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to Super Bowl LVI with the Rams last season.
Hockenson noted O'Connell's demeanor – simultaneously smiling and "have a presence" – upon his arrival in Minnesota Tuesday evening.
"Him being from L.A. and knowing Stafford and my connection with Matthew, it's just kind of that same vibe," Hockenson said. "Matthew is such a very smart dude, one of those guys that you love to be around, and that's exactly what I've got from Coach O. It's very familiar, a lot of comfort. So it's just super cool to meet him."
Hockenson, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, adds a high-level offensive weapon to a Vikings offense already brimming with talent.
Hockenson said only time will tell the ceiling for this unit.
"You've got a lot of key guys. [Adam] Thielen, you've got J.J. (Justin Jefferson), you've got Dalvin [Cook] in the backfield," he said. "I'm just here to make a piece and help those guys. J.J. expands the field; [opposing defenses are] trying to play two high and leave safeties, but it's like, if I can do something in the middle of the field and make them get out of that, it just opens up everybody.
"It's complementary football when you have players like this. Just being able to put stress on the defense any way you can," Hockenson added.
A young coach, dynamic offense and 6-1 record is certainly a fair reward for swapping teams midseason.
But moving northwest in the division holds off-field benefits, as well, for Hockenson.
Minneapolis is just a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Hockenson's hometown of Chariton, Iowa, from which his parents travel for all their son's games.
View photos of Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson who was traded to the team on Nov. 1.
"It's really cool because this kind of cuts the drive [to Detroit] in half for them," Hockenson said. "My dad grew up a Minnesota fan, his room was painted purple and yellow, so it's kind of hitting home, for sure.
"I'm excited to be back in the Midwest," he added. "They call Michigan the Midwest, but this is really the true Midwest."
Hockenson noted that his parents, Teri and Tod, will be heading to Washington, D.C., this weekend to see his first game as a Viking.
It remains to be seen how much Minnesota will be able to implement Hockenson into Sunday's game plan, but he's working hard to be ready.
"I'm grinding. I got in last night, they gave me my iPad … I'm trying to learn this offense as much as I can," Hockenson said. "Obviously there's a lot of ins and outs to it, but football's football. This will be my fourth offense now that I've been in throughout my career. So just learning new terminology. Football, there's outside zone, there's schemes. There's route running. There's concepts. It's just what you call it. It's really just learning a new language, and I'm trying to learn that as fast as I can."
O'Connell said it's impossible to predict right now how many snaps Hockenson will get against the Commanders; he feels confident in the Vikings tight end situation, though, despite Irv Smith, Jr., moving to Injured Reserve.
"You'd love to sit here and put a number on it right now, but the beauty is Johnny Mundt's coming off of playing a real strong football game, and we have Jacob Hollister and Nick Muse ready to be activated off of our practice squad if we see a role for one of those guys," O'Connell said. "We'll just see how T.J. handles it. The good news is, it's not one of those situations where he hasn't played or anything like that; he is absolutely game ready, he looks like he's in great shape, feeling really healthy and ready to roll."