Before pumping out 35 reps on the bench press last Thursday, tops for all offensive linemen at this year’s NFL scouting combine, Isaac Asiata got some advice from his cousin, Matt.
You know, the veteran running back for the Vikings.
“He just told me what it means to be an Asiata — to go out and go to work,” Isaac Asiata, who played guard at Utah, said at the combine. “All this other stuff, the cameras, the pictures and all that other stuff doesn’t matter. What matters is how hard you work. He just told me to go out and work hard and represent the family name.”
That work ethic, that humility, that willingness to put the team first has made Matt Asiata a valued and respected player for the Vikings, though his time with the team could be coming to a close. Asiata is expected to hit free agency on Thursday.
“I have a lot to live up to,” Isaac Asiata said. “Matt has done a phenomenal job representing our family name. I want to not only represent that name but make a name for myself as well. People expect me to do well. But that kind of pressure doesn’t really get to me. It’s really exciting, and an honor to have that name on my jersey.”
Might his next jersey be a purple?
Asiata, who is projected to go as early as the third round, does play a position of need for the Vikings after the release of Brandon Fusco and the medical issue that led to Mike Harris being cut, too. Asiata said he met with “almost every team” in Indianapolis, but didn’t disclose whether the Vikings were one of them.
“Hopefully he can translate [college success] to the NFL,” the running back said. “It’s a big difference, but I’m pretty sure he’s got the mindset and talent to do it.”
After splitting time at right tackle in 2013, Isaac Asiata started every game the next three years, most of them at left guard. He was second-team all-conference in the Pac 12 as a senior. At the combine, he said that including practice reps at Utah, he has experience playing every offensive line position other than left tackle.
He is willing to do whatever in the pros, even if it means being a backup.
“Obviously, everyone wants to start, and I want to play,” he said. “But I just want to play my role on a team and contribute to a team’s success.”
Sounds like an Asiata, alright.