Adam Thielen created the template for making it to the NFL as a wide receiver from a greater Minnesota high school.
Here are the basic steps:
- Be a stud high school football player.
- Be a stud D2 or D3 college player.
- Don't get drafted.
- Sign with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent.
- Become a star.
Thielen checked all five boxes and is now one of the best receivers in the NFL. Quite the story for a guy who grew up in Detroit Lakes and doesn't even own the receiving records at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Brandon Zylstra has checked four of the five boxes, although he'll need to make the 53-man roster out of training camp in order to give himself a chance to become a star in the NFL. The Spicer, Minnesota native blossomed in the Canadian Football League after dominating at Concordia College Moorhead.
On Zylstra's tail is his younger brother, Shane Zylstra, a star wide receiver at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Shane is entering his junior season has been named the preseason offensive player of the year in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which makes total sense because he won the award last season after piling up 51 catches for 861 yards and 15 touchdowns, which tied the school's single-season record. And no, Thielen doesn't own that record.
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Shane is one inch taller than Brandon and about five pounds lighter.
"He does a great job getting to a lot of jump balls," Brandon said in an interview with KSTP last October. "He uses his size really well. I'm more of a possession receiver. That's more of how I've been used up here (in the CFL) anyway."
It's way to early to start predicting if the younger Zylstra will develop into an NFL-caliber receiver, but it's safe to say that he's on the right track.
Also, before you check out another story, do yourself a favor and watch Zylstra's highlights from his senior year of high school at New London-Spicer. This is man amongst boys type of domination.