– Quinton Flowers already is a success story on his own.

But the South Florida quarterback, who is talking to NFL teams at the NFL scouting combine this week about playing running back, has a role model in Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The two have been friends and training partners since the Miami-area high school rivals played each other on the gridiron.

“I was on the defensive side of the ball, and I just remember Teddy with swag,” Flowers said Friday. “I always looked up to Teddy and wanted to be like Teddy.”

Bridgewater, the Miami Northwestern senior, topped Flowers, the Miami Jackson freshman, in that game.

“I remember when I was in the game, he pointed at one of his receivers and made a little dance,” Flowers recalled. “And ever since then I just knew he was going to be a great guy and a great player. I just try to kind of do some of the things he did.”

Flowers went on to put up video-game numbers at South Florida, accounting for nearly 12,000 total yards and 112 touchdowns in four seasons.

The 23-year-old already has set his own example by persevering through tragedy. He lost his father to a stray bullet at a young age. In high school, Flowers then lost his mother to cancer. Shortly into his freshman season at USF, his brother was murdered.

“A lot of things I had to overcome,” Flowers said. “That just made me a stronger man.”

Vikings want Johnson but in a reduced role

Word at the combine is the Vikings would like to retain free agent Tom Johnson, last year’s starting defensive tackle, but in a reduced role. Johnson turns 34 in August after playing nearly 70 percent of the Vikings’ defensive snaps last season.

“I think Tom has some left,” coach Mike Zimmer told the Star Tribune. “But I think we got to use him in the right way. He wanted to prove he could play the run — and he did. I think it took a toll out of him. I think his best thing is if he’s just used on certain passing downs, try to limit his reps to 30ish.”

Draft’s RBs intrigue

If the Vikings need to replace Latavius Murray, a possible cap casualty this month, this year’s running back draft class showed at the combine just what it has to offer.

Backs who could be available in later rounds include Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage, Oregon’s Royce Freeman and Notre Dame’s Josh Adams. Ballage, a 227-pounder who also returned kicks at ASU, ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash.

Lineman Sirles free to explore free agency

The Vikings won’t place a restricted free agent tender on Jeremiah Sirles, the versatile offensive lineman who has started 14 games in the past two seasons, his agent, Chris Gittings, told the Star Tribune. Sirles is expecting a contract offer from the Vikings, Gittings said, but the 26-year-old lineman will get a chance to explore unrestricted free agency later this month.