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Birthday Raves for Vikings DE Hunter

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October 29, 2018


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Enjoy a Monday notes column on Vikings, Gophers and NBA newsmakers.

Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter turns 24 today and he is already a star. Teammate and safety Harrison Smith told Sports Headliners: “I mean that’s even better, how young he is—how much football he has ahead of him.”

An insider with the Vikings organization didn’t want his name printed but raved about Hunter who is the fifth player in NFL history to have 31 sacks before turning 24. The insider believes Hunter’s “potential is through the roof.”

Hunter was only 20 years old when the Vikings selected him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. By the 2016 season he became the youngest player in Vikings franchise history to lead the team in sacks, coming up with 12.5. That total was the most by any NFL defensive end, and third highest in the league.

Hunter continues to improve and the Vikings continue to appreciate him, with the source above even referring to his Hall of Fame potential.  And Smith added more praise,“Yeah, I mean he’s just constantly getting better, and he’s making the…plays for us.”

Through the schedule’s first seven games the Jamaican-born Hunter was the only player in the NFL to record at least a half sack in each game. He is tied for second in league sacks with eight.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, who has ascended from a practice team player to a potential NFL MVP candidate, remains humble and well-liked by teammates, including tight end Kyle Rudolph who was joking about the Detroit Lakes native a few days ago.

“The only thing (change) that I’ve really noticed is he’s got a much more expensive backpack now,” Rudolph said. “He had kind of a cheap backpack and now he’s got a nice little compact backpack.”

Thielen’s contract reportedly runs through 2020 and pays him $19,246,000, according to Spotrac.com. With his record setting season and weekly heroics, that is a one-sided deal for the Vikings. But Thielen said last week no revised contract talks are being discussed now, or planned for after the season.

Vikings wide receiver Chad Beebe was an undrafted free agent this year, the same status Thielen had in 2013. Beebe told Sports Headliners he’s learned about improving his skills from being around Thielen and the veteran’s success story has motivated him.

“So I’ve appreciated him a ton,” Beebe said. “Being able to look at his story inspired me.”

That was Vikings general manager Rick Spielman at Friday night’s Minnesota-Indiana game, perhaps to watch Hoosiers senior safety Jonathan Crawford and Gophers offensive tackle Donnell Greene.

Former Viking Adrian Peterson had 149 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns in the Redskins’ 20-13 win yesterday over the Giants. Peterson, at 33 years and 221 days old on Sunday, was the oldest player in NFL history to have at least 100 rushing yards and both a rushing and receiving touchdown in a single game.

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, who threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Indiana, was named the Big Ten’s Co-Freshman of the Week today along with Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi.

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns, the recruiting authority from GopherIllustrated.com, told Sports Headliners Minnesota is likely to make the recruiting of junior college defensive backs a priority for its remaining class of 2019 scholarships. That might mean both a safety and a cornerback.

During an interview Burns contacted Jason Clark, father of prep quarterback Jacob Clark, to check on a rumor that his son was being targeted to flip his commitment from Minnesota. Not true, Jason quickly answered.

The 6-5 quarterback from Rockwall, Texas is expected to enroll at Minnesota in January. Burns said it could be likely that Clark will be elevated from a three-star ranking to four by the time he joins the Gophers.

Although the Gophers ended a four-game 2018 Big Ten losing streak Friday night, the lack of wins hasn’t negatively impacted, according to Burns. The 2019 class is ranked No. 32 nationally in the team rankings by 247Sports.

Josh Richardson, reportedly part of the proposed trade deal between the Heat and Timberwolves that Minnesota rejected, is averaging only about three points per game fewer than Jimmy Butler (20.6) and is four years younger.

LeBron James, in town tonight with the Lakers to play the Timberwolves, made his NBA debut 15 years ago on this date, October 29, 2003.

It was the last Sundays in October that the Twins won their two World Series titles. October 25, 1987 and October 27, 1991 they won Game Sevens at the Metrodome.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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