MANKATO – The day the Vikings drafted him in the fourth round, Ben Gedeon was home in northeast Ohio, reminiscing with his two older brothers about the backyard games that surely, they believe, helped lead him to here with an inside track at making the Vikings’ 53-man roster.
Backyard battles included 7-on-7 football games with neighbors and Wiffle ball games that could turn physical, especially for Gedeon, always the youngest and thus easiest to pick on. Basement boxing matches helped end disputes.
His older brothers enjoy reminding Gedeon of the days when they were bigger and stronger even as Gedeon works on playing linebacker in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
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Even Gedeon, who benched press more than any other rookie linebacker at the scouting combine, thanks his older brothers for unintentionally prepping him for NFL training camp — though he adds they may still have the upper hand on him.
Gedeon grew up idolizing his older brothers in a football family. Oldest brother Alex was a captain on the Harvard football team. Middle brother Sam played Rugby at the Naval Academy. But it’s Ben, a standout at Michigan, who’s primed now for his first NFL season.
“That’s in the back of your mind, but you take it day by day,” Gedeon said. “If you start looking too far ahead, these days will really get after you.”
Gedeon played in all but one game during his four-year career in Ann Arbor, leading the Wolverines in tackles as a senior. Two practices into training camp, Gedeon has already been praised by Zimmer as a smart linebacker.
“I like Gedeon,” the head coach said. “He’s a tough guy. He’s kind of an old school linebacker. He’s got very good instincts and physicality. We’re playing him in a couple different spots just to get him acclimated. He’s smart. You tell him one time and he gets it pretty good. I like him.”
Gedeon graduated from Michigan with a degree in Economics. He was a late bloomer on the field, making only one start his first three years on campus. But as a senior he recorded 4.5 sacks and 94 tackles, nearly two-dozen better than anyone else on Jim Harbaugh’s squad, and earned second team all-Big Ten honors.
He comes to the Vikings with ample special teams experience, put there his first three years at Michigan. He’s hoping that will help earn him a spot with the Vikings as a rookie.
“You have to try to prove yourself on special teams,” Gedeon said. “That’s what I’ve been harping on during camp and organized team activities. You’re a rookie, so you’ve got to work your way up and grind it out on special teams while you keep absorbing the defense.”