The Minnesota Vikings had just two roster spots left for training camp this summer approaching rookie minicamp last weekend — when many NFL hopefuls vie to earn a chance to prove themselves.
One Minnesota native did just that.
Zach Ojile, a native of Blaine, Minnesota, located 30 minutes outside the Twin Cities, signed with the Vikings on May 16 after being receiving a tryout invitation for rookie minicamp last weekend.
“I was pretty excited and pretty thrilled just to get an opportunity and super fortunate,” Ojile told the Duluth News Tribune. “I’m super thrilled to have an opportunity with the hometown team.”
Zach Ojile Led High School Team to State Championship as a QB
Ojile’s football journey has largely been the path of an athlete. He played quarterback for Spring Lake Park High School, leading the Panthers to the Class 5A state title game.
The centerpiece of Spring Lake Park’s veer option offense, Ojile rushed for nearly 4,000 yards in his high school career before moving to tight end at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Splitting a timeshare at fullback and tight end for the Bulldogs, Ojile was given the ball in scoring situations often, catching 25 passes for 289 yards and five touchdowns in 2022. He also took 12 carries for 53 yards and three touchdowns.
A team captain in 2021 and 2022, Ojile finished his college career rushing for 418 yards and 14 touchdowns while also compiling 702 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches.
At 6-foot-2, 238 pounds, Ojile will look to earn his keep as a fullback in the NFL.
He’ll join fellow Minnesota native C.J. Ham as the only other fullback on the roster. There’s potential for Ojile to land a spot on the practice squad as an emergency backup to Ham considering the lack of options elsewhere.
Kevin O’Connell Revels Working With Rookie QB Jaren Hall
Overseeing fifth-round pick Jaren Hall, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell embarks on his first project of developing a young quarterback with his fingerprints on every aspect of the organization.
Hall’s experience seems already polar opposite of 2021 third-round pick Kellen Mond, who Mike Zimmer didn’t pay much mind as a defensive head coach with his job on the line.
Kevin O’Connell spoke on his experience with Hall after the first day of rookie minicamp last Friday and had a hard time staying away from the young prospect.
“I was picking my spots today, I tend to maybe overdo it sometimes and I’ve got some great coaches and want to let those guys form that initial relationship, that initial bond. But I spend a lot of time with Jaren (Hall) and I’m a big fan of his, love the way he came out and commanded a group of guys that are learning a bunch of information for the first time,” O’Connell said in a May 12 media conference.
As the new regime’s commitment to Kirk Cousins remains in limbo with the veteran quarterback entering the final year of his contract, O’Connell will undoubtedly be pouring into Hall, who is the only quarterback under contract beyond the 2023 season.
“There were some ups, there were some downs and that’s what we expect and ultimately just trying to give him tangible real things, that when Monday morning comes around and the veterans walk in here and he’s throwing alongside Kirk (Cousins) and Nick (Mullens), that he’s got some real tangible things he can work on every single rep,” O’Connell said, adding that the quarterback coaches better get used to him butting to coach up Hall.
“It’s watching and evaluating and giving them clear-cut coaching points with real tangible ways of fixing those things. And when they do it right, it’s the positive reinforcement that’s exactly how it should look every time. [Hall] was pleasant, and a joy to work with for Chris (O’Hara, quarterbacks coach), Grant (Udinski, assistant QBs coach), and myself. I’m sure those guys thought I butted my head in there a little bit too much but they better get used to that.”