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Rookies under-the-radar: Jake Wieneke

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Training camp and preseason are fun simply for watching the up and comers and the rookies who tend to fly under-the-radar.

South Dakota State v TCU Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

There has always been something about training camp and the preseason that just gets me all giddy. It’s probably because of the players that are late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents that are trying to make the 53-man roster

Who remembers John David Booty? I do, because of the simple reason that I looked forward to watching a third string quarterback fight for a job.

When Stefon Diggs was drafted in the fifth round, a lot of people didn’t even expect him to make an impact. For some reason I was all about Diggs, when I watched some of his game film I knew he was going to be a scrapper and for once I wasn’t wrong.

Of course there is Adam Thielen, I had no idea who he was before 2014. Two years later he turns into one of the top-targets for the Vikings.

Who could be the next under-the-radar wideout for the Vikings? There’s one guy to keep a close eye on during camp and the preseason. He shares the same commonality with Thielen and that’s being a Minnesota native.

Jake Wieneke was a South Dakota State standout for all four of his years as a Jackrabbit. Throughout his four year campaign he played in 53 games, reeling in 288 catches for 5,157 yards, he also added 59 touchdowns.

His number of receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns is a career record in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and at SDSU. In the 53 games he played, Wieneke recorded at least one catch in every game which set an FCS record.

Just by those last couple of facts it’s interesting that he was slept on during the draft, but it doesn’t surprise me considering he is an FCS player from the Missouri Valley Football Conference, where usually less than a handful of players actually get drafted.

Wieneke was the first player in the history of SDSU football to earn All-American honors in his four seasons. His senior year he was was a recipient of the STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award. The recipient of the award is someone who excels on the field, but also makes large contributions within the community.

Wieneke isn’t a small guy neither. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Maple Grove alum is the largest listed wide receiver on the Vikings roster. He adds some size that could be beneficial. Something to keep an eye on is how he matches up against other defensive backs in the league.

I’m not saying Wieneke will end up starting for the Vikings this season, but if he is a grinder it will be fun to watch his come up and maybe in a couple years he could be where Thielen was in terms of progress.

The difference between Thielen and Wieneke is that Wieneke came from a division-I school and Thielen came from a small D-II school.

Wieneke reminds me of an agile tight end, except he’s not as big as one, but he’s bigger than most of his counterparts at wideout. If there was another position between wide receiver and tight end, that’s where Wieneke would land. Despite his size the boy can move.

His combine results were below the average among other receivers who participated in the combine. He recorded a 4.67 second 40 yard dash, the average was 4.49. He managed a 34 inch vertical, the average was about 35.84 inches.

From the highlights, you notice a couple times were Wieneke was defended by double-coverage and was still able to get up to the ball, his height makes up for his below-average vertical. It seemed like whenever the Jackrabbits were in the redzone, Wieneke was there catching goal line fades for touchdowns.

Keep an eye out for number nine on the field during the preseason, because after a respectable college career, he’s bound to make an impact in the NFL.