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Wagner native St. Pierre invited to Minnesota Vikings minicamp

USF's Solomon St. Pierre, right, celebrates after the Cougars record a takeaway during a game last year at Bob Young Field in Sioux Falls. (Garrick Hodge/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- Former Wagner High School and University of Sioux Falls football standout Solomon St. Pierre will get his shot at the NFL.

USF announced on Sunday that St. Pierre has been invited to attend the Minnesota Vikings rookie minicamp, which begins Thursday.

“I am excited about this opportunity to try out with Minnesota,” said St. Pierre in a statement. “It is a great opportunity and I will give everything I have at the camp.”  

St. Pierre is considered USF's most decorated player at the Division II level with 16 total All-American honors. He was a two-time All-NSIC selection, named HERO Sports National Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and USF's first-ever finalist for the Cliff Harris Defensive Player of the Year Award.

At Wagner, St. Pierre set a South Dakota state record for most interceptions in a career, picking off 22 passes for the Red Raiders. Wagner High School head coach Jason Knebel said he wasn’t surprised St. Pierre has ended up competing for an NFL job.

“He was phenomenal,” said Knebel, who added St. Pierre had five interceptions against top-ranked Platte in his first start for the Red Raiders as a sophomore. “He has a nose for the ball and there’s some things you can’t even coach with him. He’s just so naturally gifted.”

Knebel added he stays in touch with St. Pierre on a weekly basis. Knebel said after St. Pierre didn’t get drafted, the standout cornerback had the opportunity to pick a team to tryout for.  

“He’s a natural DB,” Knebel said. “He read quarterbacks real well and was just an athletic kid. He sees the game really well. From where he was as a freshman to where he is now, he’s improved by leaps and bounds.”

Knebel said Minnesota wasn’t even in the picture for St. Pierre on Saturday evening, but things quickly changed.

“Between him and his agent, they probably thought Minnesota was the best fit they had,” Knebel said. “They thought that’s the best opportunity for him to get a look and a chance to continue on with his football career.”

The 5-foot-11, 171-pound ball-hawking defensive back finished fifth in the nation with nine interceptions. He finished his career with 22 picks, which set a USF school record, and ranks No. 1 nationally among active players in the NCAA at all levels.

He is the only player in NCAA Division II with nine or more interceptions in consecutive seasons. In his standout college career, St. Pierre appeared in 41 games, making 30 starts with 145 career tackles and 105 solo stops. On his 22 interceptions, he has 518 return yards, which ranks first all-time at USF and is one of the league’s top career totals.

Knebel said St. Pierre has connections with current Wagner students and his story helps provide a shining example.

“It’s neat,” Knebel said. “For our kids, it gives them a chance if they put in hard work and dedication, the sky's the limit for what they can do.”

After the NFL Draft ends, undrafted players link up with teams in two different ways. First, the most-coveted players are signed as undrafted free agents, which includes a contract onto the team’s 90-man offseason roster. Teams also invite players to rookie minicamps, which allows players to try out for an NFL team in an attempt to receive a free-agent contract and make the 90-man roster.

But all undrafted players usually are long-shots to make NFL rosters, which cut from 90 players beginning of training camp in July down to 53 players in September.

Check back with The Daily Republic later for more updates on this story.

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