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Free-agent Boone makes strong impression with Vikings

I can’t remember a new player coming to the Vikings who has impressed his teammates with his personality, leadership and just all-around good character as Alex Boone has.

So far in the workouts, Boone has done nothing but impress the coaches and his teammates, which is contrary to past free agents who failed to make a good impression in their first year here.

Boone was by far the biggest offseason free-agent addition the Vikings made, signing a four-year, $26.8 million deal. Rick Spielman said last week the Vikings have around 15 offensive linemen signed to contracts, and CBS Sports reported the Vikings have the highest priced offensive line group in the NFL at around $35 million.

While Boone should land a starting job, he started 59 of a possible 64 games over the past four seasons, he was asked what it means to have that level of competition at his position.

“I think it’s the most important position, so I’m not surprised,” Boone said. “I mean let’s be honest, if you want to have a good team you have to build up in the trenches, and that’s the truth. Competition is always a good way of finding out who’s ready to play and who’s not. I’ve always been a big fan of competition. Since high school and college we have always had that mind-set as a team. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited for what this team is going to do.”

Boone became a starter for the 49ers in 2012 and got to block for one of the NFC’s best running backs in Frank Gore, who rushed for 1,214 yards in 2012, 1,128 yards in ’13 and 1,106 yards in ’14. Then last season there was a steep drop off as Gore went to the Indianapolis Colts. Carlos Hyde led San Francisco in rushing with a mere 470 yards last season.

But now Boone will get to once again block for one of the best running backs in football in Adrian Peterson, and he was asked what that means to him.

“He’s unbelievable,” Boone said. “You know you talk about one of the greatest running backs right now in the game, just unbelievable. And he’s getting better as he’s getting older, which is awesome. It’s a lot of fun, especially being a guy from the Midwest that enjoys the run game the most. That’s something an offensive lineman takes pride in, when you have a running back behind you who can really do some amazing things, it makes this game a lot of fun.”

All-Big Ten performer went undrafted in ’09

It’s amazing to think that Boone, who made first team All-Big Ten and second team All-America during his senior season at Ohio State, still went undrafted. He described how he got to play for the Buckeyes.

“I went to St. Edwards High School in Lakewood, Ohio, and they’re very football, football friendly,” he said. “It’s an honor to play there. I played for John Gibbons, who is in the hall of fame in Ohio. I was recruited early. I was a sophomore when I was committed to Ohio State. I always knew I wanted to go to Ohio State, my grandfather was a big Ohio State fan, and it was an honor to go there and play with coach [Jim] Tressel and get to play with him and know him.

“I was an undrafted free agent when I came out of college in ’09. Back then I was actually a tackle, I played swing tackle first [in high school], in college I was a left tackle, and then I started at right guard for the [49ers].”

Despite the difficult road it took to get to this position, Boone was in high demand following the 2015 season.

“We had a couple clubs interested, but in the end I was happy it ended up being Minnesota,” he said. “Back in a tough division that is a very prideful division for how tough they are, and winning, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Why did he pick the Vikings?

“Why not? They’re a team on the rise right now, the division, I thought we were playing outside but the new stadium is gorgeous and I can’t complain,” Boone said. “Being back in the Midwest is fun, where I’m from, and it’s always fun being in the Midwest.”



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Neil S. Schwartz

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