Vikings Release Fan Favorite, Comeback Hero

Jaylen Twyman

Courtesy of Vikings The Vikings released Jaylen Twyman on October 4, 2022.

Jaylen Twyman hadn’t played in a football game in 961 days approaching the Minnesota Vikings‘ preseason opener.

The 2021 sixth-round defensive tackle, who opted out of his senior season of college due to family concerns amid the pandemic, was shot four times in his hometown of Washington D.C. before his first NFL training camp.

Twyman made a miraculous full recovery and returned to game shape by dropping roughly 40 pounds in the offseason before he played in his first football game in over two and a half years in August.

“I’ve been an agent for 35 years, and this is one of the greatest comebacks I’ve ever seen,” his agent Drew Rosenhaus told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press in August. Twyman proved his mettle by making the Vikings’ practice squad to start the season despite his misfortunes.

However, his time in Minnesota has apparently come to an end.

The Vikings announced they had cut Twyman on October 4, per a team release. Twyman was an immediate fan favorite after footage of his draft call was posted to social media following the 2021 draft.

Red Wing, Minnesota, native Travis Toivonen, was also released from the practice squad, likely to make room for Eden Prairie, Minnesota, native Ryan Connelly and incoming nose tackle Khyiris Tonga, who is set to be signed off the Atlanta Falcons practice squad.

Jaylen Twyman Came Back ‘Stronger Than Ever’

Pitt: Beyond the Script | Football | Jaylen Twyman FeatureSubscribe to Pitt LiveWire for more Pitt coverage | | @Pitt_ATHLETICS2019-10-11T15:40:50Z

At 6-foot-2, 291 pounds, Twyman is an undersized defensive tackle but has an ideal role model to make his mark in the NFL.

Hoping to lean on finesse moves and leverage as an interior pass-rushing specialist, Twyman likens his game to Los Angeles Rams future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald, a mentor of his as a Pitt alumnus.

Last February, Twyman went to South Florida and began his offseason program. Away from any football activities for over a year since the shooting, Twyman weighed 330 pounds, roughly 40 pounds over his playing weight.

Twyman turned heads with the shape he showed up in at training camp, just a year after the shooting incident.

“He never gave up and kept fighting,” Rosenhaus told Tomasson. “He nearly died. But with unrelenting determination, he worked his way back to not only recover but actually get stronger. He’s a remarkable young man.”

On his birthday, less than a week before training camp on July 19, Twyman tweeted a photo of himself flexing in his refined form before heading to Minnesota. His personal trainer, Sean Washington, said Twyman recently bench-pressed 470 pounds, 15 pounds more than his personal best before the shooting, per Tomasson.

“Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for a reaction. I had reached my weight goal after being super heavy earlier in the year. So getting down to my weight goal right before camp, I was just excited to do that and show off some of my hard work,” Twyman said, via “The nutrition and the lifting and all the running hills down in that South Florida heat … it paid off.”

Aaron Donald Continues to Be a Mentor to Jaylen Twyman

Donald has mentored Twyman since he arrived on campus at Pitt, often working out with the Washington D.C. native.

After the Vikings’ Week 16 matchup against the Rams, Donald gave Twyman his jersey, to which Twyman replied, “Appreciate you bra for giving me the blue print on what it take” on Twitter.

Twyman’s NFL career has hit an unexpected detour, however, he’s shown the perseverance and ability to bounce back before.

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