September 12, 2018 04:59 PM
Bryan Witzmann's parents are native Minnesotans and at the Somerset, Wisconsin, home he grew up in, "from my driveway, we see Minnesota."
Having signed with the Vikings Monday, Witzmann may get a chance to play in the "Border War" rivalry named for the very border he could look across as a kid.
The Vikings signed the 6-foot-7 offensive lineman Monday after he was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs. He started 13 games for the Chiefs last season after playing 11 games for them in 2016.
WItzmann is enthusiastic to join a team that has Super Bowl potential.
"You see the talent all around on the defense, they're stout. The stats from last year don't lie," Witzmann said of his new team. "The offense, with Dalvin getting healthy and everything, it's an explosive offense."
With his mother a St Paul-native and his father hailing from New Brighton, Witzmann says his entire family are Vikings fans. But, growing up in the Twin-Cities-suburb-but-located-in-Wisconsin town of Somerset meant Witzmann was caught in the middle of the rivalry as a young football fan.
"My parents and whole family are Vikings fans, but most of my friends were Packer fans," Witzmann explained with a smile. "I tried not to play into either side too much."
His first trip to Lambeau Field as a Viking this Sunday will be special.
"It's gonna be fun," he said. "Obviously I'm from Wisconsin, but I'm gonna shove it in my friends' faces."
Somerset High School played in the State Championship game in Witzmann's freshman year. He went on to earn honorable mention all-state accolades as a defensive lineman. He was named MVP of the Middle Border Conference in 2008, his senior year.
Despite the honors and achievements, Witzmann was lightly recruited out of high school - possibly owing to a knee injury that cost him his junior season.
After accepting an offer to play at South Dakota State, he earned an engineering degree and started every game in his four-year career - eventually making a school-record 49 consecutive starts - on his way to earning FCS All-American honors twice.
His NFL career began when he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans, and he made stops in New Orleans and Dallas before hooking on and eventually starting in Kansas City.
He spent this past offseason working at an externship in the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.
He joins the Vikings, where he already has an ally on his offense.
"I've trained with (Adam) Thielen the last four off-seasons when I was in town. Obviously seen him progress, seen the team progress," Witzmann says.
Witzmann should have a chance to contribute right away. The Vikings should be getting center Pat Elflein back from injury, but lost Aviante Collins to a season-ending arm injury in the season opener against San Francsicso.
Click here to see Mike Zimmer's weekly press conference in which he offers updates on the state of the Vikings offensive line
Updated: September 12, 2018 04:59 PM
Created: September 12, 2018 01:18 PM
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