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OLB Junior Aho joins Vikings through International Player Partnership Program

A unique opportunity for both player and team

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 SMU at North Texas Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This coming season, the Minnesota Vikings will have an opportunity to expand their practice squad through the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program.

The team will welcome outside linebacker Junior Aho through the program this season. His spot will not count against the team’s 90-man roster. He could, potentially, make the 53-man roster, but in the event that he does not and the Vikings elect to keep him on the practice squad, he will not count against the 16 player limit there, either.

Aho, a native of Nice, France, played for several teams in France as well as the French National Team, helping them to win the European Championship in 2018. He then moved on to play college football here in the States at Southern Methodist University. This past season, he appeared in all 13 games for the Mustangs, recording 25 tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble. In three seasons at SMU, he tallied 43 tackles, five sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, and a pair of forced fumbles.

The NFL instituted the International Player Pathway Program in 2017. . .which, if you’ll recall, is the year after the Vikings made German native Moritz Böehringer the first player that had not played college football in America to be drafted into the NFL. Böehringer never did latch on with the Vikings, but participated in the International Player Pathway Program a couple of years ago with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Personally, I’m quite interested to see how Aho develops with the Vikings this season. If the Vikings can take advantage of this program and allow Aho to stay around, he could potentially be ready to make the team next season or at some point beyond, but his story for this season should be a good one.