It didn’t necessarily happen the way he hoped, but Mitch Leidner is in the NFL.
The former Lakeville South High School and University of Minnesota quarterback signed with the Vikings on Sunday and reported to their preseason workouts in Eden Prairie. Before getting the call from the Vikings, Leidner had been working out in the Twin Cities and helping at Lakeville South practices.
He becomes the fifth quarterback in Vikings camp. The others are starter Sam Bradford, backups Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke, and Teddy Bridgewater, who remains on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from a knee injury sustained in the 2016 preseason. The team isn’t likely to keep more than three on the active roster once the regular season starts, and much will depend on when Bridgewater is ready to come off the PUP list.
The Vikings have not said whether Leidner would play in their preseason game against San Francisco at 7 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings’ final preseason game is Thursday, Aug 31, against Miami, also at home.
“I think I bring a lot of athleticism and size to the position,” Leidner (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) told Vikings.com. “I feel like I’m pretty smart and can get a quick understanding of what they’re trying to do on offense here and really understand the playbook. And hopefully the faster I can learn it, the quicker I can get out there and actually take some reps against the defense.”
Leidner attended the Baltimore Ravens’ rookie minicamp and had tryouts with Detroit and Jacksonville, but the Vikings had been monitoring him.
“He did good at the (NFL) combine; he did good at the workout over there,” head coach Mike Zimmer said on Vikings.com. “The big thing from his college tape is making sure he’s getting the ball to the right people, getting the ball out on time, making accurate throws. I think those are probably things he probably struggles with the most, being his accuracy. So that’s the big thing, getting out here and get timing with these receivers and be accurate.”
At Minnesota, Leidner was second all-time with 590 completions and third in passing yards with 7,287. His 33 rushing touchdowns are the most in Gophers history by a quarterback.
Coaches say they pay little attention to rankings in general and almost none to rankings that come out before the season starts. But they’re good conversation-starters, so here goes:
South Suburban Conference teams occupy the top three spots in the Class 3A volleyball preseason rankings. Eagan is No. 1, which should be no surprise considering the Wildcats are coming off back-to-back state championships. Second is Prior Lake, a state tournament qualifier in 2016, and third is Lakeville North, which was Section 1 runner-up last year. The state coaches association, which does the volleyball rankings, also put SSC member Shakopee at No. 8.
Lakeville South is sixth and Farmington 11th in the state Class AA girls cross country rankings. The top two individuals were predictable – Farmington’s Anna Fenske and Lauren Peterson, who finished first and second in the 2016 state meet. Lakeville North received honorable mention in the girls team rankings, and Lakeville South’s Brianne Brewster received honorable mention in the individual rankings.
Rosemount is ninth in the boys Class AA cross country preseason rankings. Two South Suburban Conference runners were in the individual top 10 – Luke Labatte of Rosemount (seventh) and Trenton Allen of Eagan (ninth).
Rosemount, the 2016 state runner-up, is first in the state Class AA girls soccer preseason rankings. Eagan is at No. 6 and Lakeville North is in a three-way tie for eighth. Eastview and Lakeville South received votes. Lakeville North was 10th in the Class AA boys soccer preseason rankings and Eastview received votes.