(KMSP) - If you look past the all-pros and the pro bowlers on the Vikings defensive line, you'll find a very unlikely story.
Rookie defensive end Ade Aruna is a native of Nigeria. He was recruited to play basketball in Florida and at the age of 16 he left his family behind for a new life in America. But while he was shooting hoops, another opportunity knocked.
“I wanted to come to America. Behind the s’ I mean I liked it, I've seen it, but I don't know what's going on," Aruna said.
Aruna didn't play his first full year of football until he was a senior in high school, but he took to the game rather quickly. It didn't take long for college scouts to notice his talent, and even Aruna said he couldn't believe the attention he was receiving
"I was just looking at myself like, ‘are this people really serious?’ All these people coming to me and offering me to play football. N.C. State showed up and Kentucky was like, ‘yeah we want you.’ Illinois show up. Indiana wanted me to take visit. I was like, ‘I don't think I'm that good at this,’" he said.
But Aruna was that good and he chose to pursue football and his education at Tulane. His parents had no idea he was playing football and he recalls being nervous when the moment arrived to tell them.
"I was like don't worry, I'm the one doing the blow. I'm not the one taking it,” Aruna explained to his parents. “It was like, ‘oh, you play on the other side,’ I was like yeah I play on the other side. I'm the one running over people and he started laughing on the phone and said, ‘oh ok that's better that way.’"
Aruna's goal is to make the final roster and bring his family from Nigeria to Minnesota so they can watch him play for the very first time. He gave up a lot to pursue the American dream, and now he has a chance to complete his unlikely story by securing a spot on the Vikings roster.
"I was just blessed to have this wonderful opportunity and to be where I am today. I’m blessed.”