Among several Vikings and other football prospects working out for seven NFL scouts Wednesday at the Gophers’ indoor facility was Kole Conrad, a two-time NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion for the Gophers.
Conrad, 24, who has received interest from the New York Jets, checked in at 6 feet 3, 316 pounds. He gave up football as a high school freshman in Wisconsin to focus on wrestling but now wants to become an NFL guard or center. He would love to play for the hometown Vikings but would welcome a chance anywhere.
“I wanted to be the best at what I was doing (wrestling), but I got to the point in my life where I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue, which means I definitely should not continue,” Conrad said. “Football has always interested me, so I figured I’d give it a shot and see where I stand.”
None of the two dozen prospects who worked out were overwhelming, which is why the best they probably can hope for is to be a late-round pick in next month’s NFL draft or to get free-agent opportunities.
“Rough,” Conrad said of his workout. “I feel like a lot of the steps were in place, but I don’t know if I was nailing them as well as I have. I’ve been working on this stuff for six weeks.”
Conrad bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times.
“Not great,” he said. “But I’m just going to keep plugging, and I hope they understand where I’m at, but more importantly where I can get to.”
Conrad works out with another former Gophers NCAA champion heavyweight wrestler, Brock Lesnar, who now competes professionally in mixed martial arts. Lesnar had an unsuccessful tryout with the Vikings as a defensive end in 2004.
“I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t give football a try,” Conrad said.