|Tom E. Puskar/Associated Press|
Updated: August 19th, 2015 3:00pm
By: Daniel House
MyCole Pruitt didn't know how it would feel to enter the practice field for his first NFL action. In fact, he didn't have anyone who would really know the feeling either. Pruitt was actually the first member of his family to play football. The 6-foot-2, 258-pound rookie tight end eagerly awaited the chance to strap on pads at the next level. Of course playing high school football in St. Louis had it's share of thrilling moments, but it wouldn't equal what he was about to experience. This was a totally different feeling.
As he made his way to practice, Pruitt was all business. He knew that in the NFL, there were no awards for being drafted -- you had to earn it.
"You put in so much work and when you finally get here, it's kind of surreal. But once you put the pads on, it's all back to the same," Pruitt said.
Playing in the FCS conference, MyCole Pruitt led all Division-I tight ends in catches, yards and touchdowns. The Vikings selected Pruitt in the fifth-round and were attracted to his versatility. He had the experience to play H-back and tight end. Not to mention, he had the polished route running skills and size to be a threat. He was a true diamond in the rough talent the Vikings found when they evaluated players in the smaller NCCA athletic conferences. Pruitt didn't play in a top-tier conference, but he pushed himself to develop his route running skills.
"I was out running routes and catching the ball. I had to get open despite some tough coverage, so route running became key to that," Pruitt explained.
The biggest transition Pruitt will face as he plays tight end will be blocking. Every training camp practice had some emphasis on fundamentals of pass protection and run blocking. Pruitt is gaining more experience in this avenue, but indicated that the smaller techniques played a major role in his growth as a blocker.
"I think [run blocking] is coming along pretty well. It's all about getting low and having great techinque. It's those little things that mean so much and I've been trying to work on those this whole time," Pruitt stated.
Pruitt has been mentored by Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner during this entire process. He likes the challenge of learning the terminology and the way Turner motivates him to improve every day. Within a system that predicates the use of tight ends, Pruitt is sure to be a focal point of this offense in 2015. When the team uses two tight end sets, Kyle Rudolph and Pruitt can both be threats in the passing games.
"[Turner] expects a lot from me and I wouldn't want it to be any other way. It's been fun and every day I'm working towards learning more and more," Pruitt explained.
Pruitt has already splashed in the preseason and most notably hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass in the Hall of Fame game two weeks ago. He has recently missed time with a left ankle sprain, but he is slowly progressing towards seeing action again.
With all of that aside, MyCole Pruitt definitely has the chance to be a 'diamond in the rough' talent for the Vikings offense.