MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — They started like so many, with wide eyes and big dreams of that one day they would play in the “Big Game.”
That big game is Sunday for five former Minnesota high school football players: four for the Minnesota Vikings, one for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Michael Floyd knew long before he was a first round pick in the NFL he wanted to play in the NFL. He was considered a four-star recruit at Cretin-Derham Hall — and his dream came true.
“Growing up, you want to be in this kind of situation, and not too many guys get this experience, so it’s, like I said, a dream come true,” he said.
Marcus Sherels was not as heavily recruited. He made it to the Vikings as a walk on for the Gophers.
Considered under size at Rochester, John Marshall had a big heart.
“I played running back, corner back, punt return, kick return, kickoff, punt team — I did everything. I didn’t leave the field the whole game, it was awesome,” he said.
So how did Sherels dream so big?
“You have to,” he said. “You only live once, so you might as well dream big.”
Like Sherels, Adam Thielen, wasn’t drafted. And like Sherels, it didn’t matter. He had been named to the Pro Bowl and became a face of the franchise.
But he has long been the face – and a favorite son — of Detroit Lakes.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’ve had so much support, really from day one of being on the team, from Detroit Lakes, and just seeing that support really helps me.”
He played in high school and college against another undrafted Viking in the lineup, C.J. Ham, who went to Duluth. He remembers their meetings with Detroit Lakes.
“We always played Detroit Lakes, every single year,” Ham said. “Normally, for their homecoming or our homecoming. So it’s really nice having that connection, and obviously Adam was a great player in Mankato.”
Waiting for them in Philadelphia is another Minnesota high school product: Beau Allen. He started his career as four-year defensive line starter at Minnetonka High School, not coming to football until his junior high.
“He didn’t play football until eighth grade, I think it was, or seventh grade,” Beau’s father Matt Allen said. “He didn’t start at all. He played soccer, hockey, lacrosse, track — did everything else.”
While we were visiting, the phone rang. It was Beau, with some FaceTime memories.
“I think my folks have lived there for 27, 28 years,” Beau said of his home. “Made a lot of friends in my neighborhood. Grew up in Minnetonka, love Minnetonka.”
He was a standout at Wisconsin for the Badgers. That’s where his parents went to school and met each other, and it’s the school his sister Grace currently attends. The younger sibling has a friendly rivalry with her big bro.
“One time after a board game, he had to send me an edible arrangement because we got into such a big fight. It was an apology,” Grace said. “That was one of the downfalls of our relationship, but also a peak. It was fun.”
It has been a near dream come true, watching son grow into an NFL player — almost.
“It’s been his dream his whole life, so it’s just awesome to see somebody achieve their dream,” his mother, Susie Allen said. “But as his mother, as a registered nurse, it’s not the career path I would probably choose for my son.”
He will be in there. He recovered a fumble against the Vikings last year. They love him to play, just not too much.
“This is terrible to say, but I love him being the backup,” Susie said. “Less time to get his head hit!”
But this is special, surrounded by Vikings. Beau has prepared and endured this week.
“It’s fun, we start the majority of our prep tomorrow, so we’ll see,” Beau said. “It’s been fun so far.”
And this week, this family will be there, and is allowed to not cheer for the Minnesota Vikings — and that’s understandable.
“I like watching the Vikings, I have a good time watching the Vikings, and now that they’re playing the Eagles, I’m really excited to watch the Eagles beat the Vikings,” Matt said.