It’s common for former college teammates to go up against each other in the NFL. But this Sunday when the Vikings and Broncos meet at Mall of America Field, there will be a prominent and illustrious college connection that will draw plenty of attention.
The Vikings drafted Percy Harvin out of the University of Florida with the #22 overall choice in 2009, and one year later the Broncos used the 25th overall pick to select Tim Tebow, also out of Florida. Together, Harvin and Tebow guided the Gators to BCS National Championships after both the 2006 and 2008 seasons. The Broncos also have DE Derrick Harvey on their roster, and Harvey was the defensive MVP of the title game following the 2006 season.
Harvin and Tebow accounted for 3TDs in the 2006 title game, with Harvin dashing in from 4 yards out to tally a TD run and Tebow tossing a 1-yard TD pass to WR Andre Caldwell in the 2nd quarter and then recording a TD run of his own from 1 yard out in the 4th quarter. Florida defeated Ohio State by a score of 41-14 to capture the championship.
In the title game following the 2008 season, Harvin and Tebow led the Gators to a 24-14 victory over Phil Loadholt’s Oklahoma Sooners. Harvin had a 2-yard TD run in the 2nd quarter and Tebow threw 2 TD passes in the game, one to Louis Murphy and another to David Nelson.
Tebow was on a conference call with Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday and had nothing but flattering words for his former teammate.
“I’ve definitely kept up with him and rooted for him,” Tebow said of Harvin. “He’s a great guy, great player, so I’ve been excited to see all the success that he’s had. He does definitely break the mold with how he plays, the skills that he has, so that’s been exciting to see. He can do so many things for a team, from punt return, kickoff return, running back, receiver, slot, whatever you need. Shoot, he can even line up at quarterback probably. He can be everything. I know he always has a good attitude about helping the team, so I just wish him the best and look forward to seeing him.”
You’re going to have a hard time finding a more prolific tandem in college football history. In just 3 seasons, Harvin generated 3,781 yards from scrimmage and 32 TDs, which is the most TDs by a WR in the history of the Gators football program. In 4 seasons, Tebow generated 12,233 yards from scrimmage to go along with 145 TDs – 88 passing TDs and 57 rushing TDs.
There also another notable college football reunion for Minnesotans coming up this weekend. Vikings CB Marcus Sherels attended the University of Minnesota with Broncos WR Eric Decker and practice squad quarterback Adam Weber. Decker is from Cold Spring, Minnesota and attended Rocori High School, Sherels is a Rochester, MN native and Weber was born in Shoreview and went to Mounds View.
Here are a few more college connections from the Vikings-Broncos matchup…
— Vikings LB Erin Henderson teamed with Broncos RB Lance Ball at Maryland
— Vikings DE D’Aundre Reed played with Broncos FB Spencer Larsen at Arizona
— Vikings S Jamarca Sanford and Broncos CB Cassius Vaughn teamed together at Mississippi
— At Notre Dame, Vikings C John Sullivan played with Broncos QB Brady Quinn and S David Bruton. Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph also teamed with Bruton for the Fighting Irish.
— Vikings DE Brian Robison, CB Cedric Griffin, Broncos WR Quan Cosby and OT Tony Hills were college teammates at Texas and played on the Longhorns 2005 National Championship winning team
— Vikings LB Xavier Adibi and Broncos WR Eddie Royal teamed together at Virginia Tech
Tags: Marcus Sherels, Percy Harvin
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 51 Comments »
Sitting at 2-9 and with plenty of shortcomings suppressing the team’s ability to display improvement, many are inclined to castaway the Vikings final 5-game stretch of the 2011 season as a meaningless period of time. But a quick stroll down memory lane suggests that there still is plenty on the line for the Vikings as they begin the final stretch of the season, a stretch that includes 3 of the final 5 games at home.
In the 2002 season, which was Mike Tice’s first full season as Head Coach, the Vikings limped out of the gates to a 0-4 start and eventually wound up sitting at 3-10 after 13 weeks. But, just as Leslie Frazier’s team has done this year, that Vikings team didn’t quit on the season. They finished strong by collecting wins in their final 3 contests, knocking two teams – the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins – out of playoff contention along the way.
The benefit of playing hard and not surrendering at the end of the 2002 season paid dividends even in 2003 for the Vikings. With the 9th overall pick in the 2003 draft, the Vikings selected DT Kevin Williams, and then in the 2nd round they pounced on LB E.J. Henderson. Add WR Nate Burleson (3rd round) to a mix that also included Matt Birk, Cory Chavous, Daunte Culpepper, Jim Kleinsasser and Randy Moss, and the Vikings were off to a 6-0 start the following season.
Had the Vikings simply given up at the end of the 2002 season, would the same events have unfolded? Perhaps. But probably not. If the Vikings continue to play hard for the final 5 games of this season and find a way to rattle off a few wins, will the same kind of success follow in 2012? It’s not a guarantee, but it only increases the probability.
The point is not to sweep the underachieving results of 2011 under the rug. No one, from people within Winter Park to the passionate fans that allocate their time, emotion and money to the team, expected or deems acceptable the results of this season. But the key for the Vikings now is not what happened earlier. The key is to fix it and make sure the 2012 season is as exciting as the 2011 season was disappointing.
Tags: E.J. Henderson, Jim Kleinsasser, Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 67 Comments »
The Vikings return home this weekend to finish up the AFC West portion of their schedule by welcoming the Denver Broncos to Mall of America Field. The game was originally scheduled for a 3:05 p.m. kickoff with CBS handling the television broadcast, but the game has been change to a 12:00 p.m. CT kickoff with broadcast responsibilities being handled by FOX.
The Broncos, who are under the direction of Head Coach John Fox and Executive VP of Football Operations John Elway, will enter Sunday’s matchup as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. They’ve won won five of their last six games and sit just 1 game behind the Oakland Raiders in the AFC West standings. The Vikings, meanwhile, are looking to end a three-game losing streak and defend their home turf.
There are two big storylines currently surrounding the Broncos and their sudden surge over the past month or so. The first is QB Tim Tebow, a polarizing figure in the NFL and the man largely responsible for Denver’s turnaround this season. We won’t delve into the details of why Tebow is a polarizing figure, but we will get into how he’s impacted the Broncos.
Tebow took over as the team’s starter in Week 7 and he has a 5-1 record since then. More than the 5 wins, though, is how he’s led the Broncos to those wins. There have been comebacks, late-game heroics and tough road victories.
The Broncos trailed 15-0 in the 4th quarter at Miami in Tebow’s first start, and the former Florida Gator guided his team to a comeback victory that included two TD passes and a 2-point conversion (on a Tebow rush) late in the game and then a FG in overtime. Denver lost big to Detroit the next week, but then Tebow-mania was in full force again against the Raiders, as the QB led Denver to victory after trailing 24-14 late in the 3rd quarter. In Week 10 Tebow led Denver to a road victory at Kansas City, and then the following week in the prime-time spotlight, Tebow drove the Broncos 95 yards in 12 plays – capped by Tebow’s 20-yard TD run – to stun the NY Jets and collect a 17-13 win. Last week against the Chargers, Tebow did it again by rallying his team from a 10-0 2nd-quarter deficit to push the game into overtime and eventually come away with another road win.
Critics question Tebow’s passing ability (45.5% completion rate) and his passing mechanics. They also doubt that Denver’s run heavy approach (249-135 rush-pass ratio since Tebow became starter) will yield successful results for the long-term. But there’s no questioning Tebow’s ability as a rusher, as he averages 5.8 yards per carry and the Broncos are averaging 208.0 rushing yards per game since he was named the starter. And in my opinion, there’s also no questioning his leadership ability, as he’s guided a team that was dead in the water 7 weeks ago into the playoff picture.
The second big storyline surrounding the Broncos is their defense, which has actually been led by a rookie. The Broncos selected LB Von Miller with the 2nd overall pick last April, and he’s been the best defensive rookie in the NFL this season. Miller, who plays outside LB in Denver’s 4-3 scheme, already has 10.5 sacks and he’s added 3 forced fumbles as well. While Tebow led Denver on an epic march at the end of their victory over the Jets a couple weeks ago, it was really Miller the defense that kept Denver in that game; Miller had 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a pass defensed and a forced fumble in the ballgame.
Denver doesn’t boast impressive rankings in any defensive category, but if you look back at their past 6 games, it’s a different story. The defense has played better, thanks in large part to Miller, and they’ve allowed just 1 rushing TD. Also, Denver has allowed just 15.0 points per game in their last 5 victories.
There’s much, much more to talk about in this matchup, and we’ll be sure to cover it all here on vikings.com over the next several days leading up to Sunday’s showdown between the Vikings and Broncos.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 17 Comments »
As is the case each Wednesday during the NFL season, fans can head to Mall of America tonight from 6:30 to 7 to check out “Vikings Country,” a weekly radio show hosted by Mike Mussman and co-hosted by either Jared Allen or Chad Greenway. Tonight, Greenway is the co-host.
The show will be broadcast live from the Sky Deck Sports Grille and Bar at Mall of America – located on the fourth floor, east side – every Wednesday during the regular season and will air on KFAN (FM 100.3); the show will also be aired on Fox Sports North at 11:00 a.m. every Sunday. Allen and Greenway will alternate weeks as co-hosts of the show with Mussman, and the Vikings Street Team will be at each broadcast giving away great prizes.
Fans are encouraged to attend the live broadcast each week at the Sky Deck Sports Grille and Bar, where they will enjoy a state-of-the-art restaurant and entertainment facility that features high definition TV’s, quality billiards, 12 lanes of bowling and a great menu of beverages and food.
Allen will co-host the following nights: Dec. 7 and Dec. 21. Greenway will co-host ontonight, Dec. 14, and Dec. 28.
Tags: Chad Greenway, Jared Allen
Posted in All | 4 Comments »