EAGAN (FOX 9) - There’s a good chance that Alexander Mattison’s life changed forever last Friday night.
It was the third round of the NFL Draft, and his phone rang. It was the Minnesota Vikings. Rick Spielman traded his third round draft choice four different times Friday, finally dropping into the last pick of the night. He was taking Mattison, who will get a chance to be the No. 2 running back for the Vikings.
“I’m just so blessed right now and I really can’t explain the emotions,” Mattison said after getting the call from the Vikings. “I’m just so grateful and can’t wait to become a Viking, get out there and get to work, be able to produce for this organization.”
For Mattison, that starts Friday at Vikings rookie minicamp.
Mattison had a difficult start to life. In a CBS Sports Network documentary, he talked about growing up in San Bernadino, Calif. He witnessed murder, gang violence, poverty and even experienced being homeless. He stayed at his high school and risked being under-recruited while still pursuing his football dream.
His father was also diagnosed with cancer in 2010.
Boise State found him, and gave him a chance in one of the most creative offenses in college football. He earned First Team All-Mountain West Conference honors last fall, finishing in the top 10 in the country in rushing yards (1,415) and touchdowns (17).
He had 40 carries for 200 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos’ loss to Fresno State in the Mountain West title game. His durability was one of his most important traits to Spielman. Mattison averaged 30 carries per game over Boise State’s last five games in 2018.
“We watched all the tape on him and it seems like the more carries he gets, the more work he gets, the more he gets lathered up,” Spielman said. “To have that type of 1-2 punch along with the current backs we also have, we’re going to have a pretty good stable of running backs.”
Mattison will get every chance to be the No. 2 running back behind Dalvin Cook. Latavius Murray signed a four-year contract with the New Orleans Saints in free agency. He ran for 578 yards and six touchdowns last year with the Vikings, including a season-high 155 yards against the Arizona Cardinals.
Murray made it clear after the season he wanted to be a starter, and it wouldn’t be with the Vikings. Mattison’s competition for No. 2 running back will be with Mike Boone and Roc Thomas. Boone had just 11 carries for 47 yards last year, and Thomas had eight carries for 30 yards. Thomas also recent pleaded guilty to a felony drug possession charge and was sentenced to probation.
It gives Mattison another door to open in pursuit of making the 53-man roster. He doesn't care how he gets there, he just wants to play.
“I am just looking forward to the opportunity to come in and go ahead and be anything that the team needs me to be, special teams, offense,” Mattison said. “I am willing to work and put in the work and contribute as much as I can in any way that I can.”
As a sophomore, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, averaging more than five yards per carry. He made the most of the NFL Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds and bench pressing 225 pounds 22 times.
At 5-11 and 221 pounds, Mattison will embrace a physical style of running that’s required in the NFL. It could look a lot like what Murray provided for the Vikings.
“I love it. All last season I played with the mindset of playing fast and physical,” Mattison said. “That is the first thing you’ll hear come out of my mouth after any game is if I played fast and physical or not.”
After a tough start to life and making several tough decisions along the way, Mattison gets a chance to live his NFL dream.
“It’s been a long road and I am just so grateful for this moment right now,” Mattison said.