Kalil's skills, and tie, a good match with Vikings

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2012 - 7:41 AM

Matt Kalil learned early, and well, about the unsung and hard-earned rewards of life in football's trenches.

On the day Matt Kalil went suit-shopping for the most momentous occasion of his life to date -- the 2012 NFL draft -- the sales associate at the South Coast Plaza Nordstrom in Costa Mesa, Calif., offered an innocent suggestion.

With the dark gray, pinstriped suit Kalil had picked to wear to New York's Radio City Music Hall for the opening night of the draft, why not add a black tie with fashionable purple stripes?

Immediately, the color scheme had Kalil sold.

"Are you sure you want to do that? With the purple?" his parents asked, worried it might seem too presumptive to don Vikings colors with no guarantee of a final NFL destination.

"Yeah," he replied. "I really like it."

Yep, all along this seemed like a perfect match. Not just the suit and tie. But the gifted left tackle and the rebuilding team in need of offensive line reinforcement. The kid who likes the thermostat kept near 50 degrees in order to sleep and the city that can give him all the cold he'd ever need.

The blue-collar lineman who wants to get better and the promising young offense with its attentive coaching staff.

Kalil's formal introduction to the Vikings came Friday afternoon at Winter Park, fully loaded with a new No. 67 jersey and all the feel-good an offensive lineman could ever ask for.

"I can definitely picture myself living here," Kalil said. "Which I have to stop saying now. Because I will be living here. And I couldn't be more thrilled about it."

Job description

At first glance, it may seem odd that a 22-year-old who grew up near Los Angeles would be so excited about a move to Minnesota. But Kalil is the Vikings' kind of player. And the Twin Cities are Kalil's kind of place.

"In a strange way, Minnesota is a better fit for Matt and how he lives," said his dad, Frank. "He likes the feel here. He's not a loner, but he likes to just hang out. He wants to fish up here and be in this environment. He feels like he fits in."

Kalil's big predraft purchase: A black, Ford F-150 truck.

His impressions of his brief Friday meeting with quarterback Christian Ponder?

"It was cool," Kalil said. "He definitely had a big smile on his face. I want to keep that smile on his face for a long time."

That is the vision now, from the top of the organization on down. Kalil is expected to be the Vikings' starting left tackle into the 2020s. And Ponder, it's hoped, will be the lone quarterback behind him, jelling into a true NFL standout in part because of the peace of mind he's getting from his protection.

"We're supposed to be able to allow Christian time to get through his reads," Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson said Friday. "And if we aren't doing that, he doesn't have a chance to advance his career. So we needed to get better players in front of him so that he didn't have to worry about the pass rush. He didn't have to feel that. I want him to only worry about his job. And Matt should facilitate that development."

The match game

Even for a California kid, it's too Hollywood to suggest all this was meant to be. That story line can be revisited up the road.

What's not up for debate is that Kalil was always meant to be an offensive lineman. Yes, he tried other positions playing youth football. And yeah, at one practice early in his freshman year at Servite High School in Anaheim, he found himself in line with the receivers and tight ends for drill work.

But only until his dad, a former professional offensive lineman himself, intervened and approached the Friars coach.

"I told him, 'Matt's not a receiver; that's not what he was going to play. So get his butt back over to offensive line,'" Frank said. "Most people ask, 'Why would you do that?' Because it was best for Matt, I thought."

Matt shrugs recalling that straight-line path to excellence. Now that he's the No. 4 pick and being advertised as an immediate starter and potential Pro Bowl player, the "father-knew-best" attitude makes sense.

But Kalil also admits that becoming an offensive line standout was an acquired taste, something he grew into as he saw how his success in the trenches stoked his competitive fire.

Climb to the top

That success, however, only came after repeated failure -- at the hands of his brother Ryan, who is six years his senior and now entering his sixth season with the Carolina Panthers.

In the Kalil household, going to the park to play football meant a unique dedication to nothing but offensive line drills. And at the outset, as Ryan excelled, Matt was the equivalent of a rodeo clown.

"Poor Matt," his mom, Cheryl, said. "He got tossed around all the time. He had to get tough pretty quick."

Added Frank: "It was bad. Matt would rush. And Ryan would go 100 miles per hour and kill him. All I could say is, 'You'll just have to wait in line. You'll get your chance.' "

That chance finally came when Ryan moved on to college at Southern California. Then, it was Matt who would routinely manhandle his cousins on "leisurely" trips to the park that included nothing but lineman drills.

The Kalils realize their niche dedication to football was unusual. But look how far it's carried Matt.

"Most dads take their sons to play catch," Frank said. "We never did. Never played catch with a football. Honestly, don't ever ask Matt to throw a football. It's atrocious. I never taught him how. Because what was he going to do with it?"

Oh, well.

The Vikings aren't investing in Kalil to throw the football. His job for the foreseeable future is simply to safeguard the guy who does.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Chicago 12:00 PM
Boston
Golden State 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Dallas 6:30 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
Detroit
New Orleans 6:30 PM
Atlanta
LA Clippers 7:00 PM
Houston
New York 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Indiana
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Denver
Memphis 9:00 PM
Portland
Minnesota 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Chicago 3:00 PM
Anaheim
NY Islanders 4:00 PM
Washington
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Boston
Montreal 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Detroit 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Vancouver 6:00 PM
Columbus
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Florida
Edmonton 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Minnesota 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tennessee 6 1st Half 16:03
Kansas 7
Eastern Ill 12 1st Half 14:55
NC Central 5
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Texas A&M
Radford 12:30 PM
NC A&T
Butler 1:00 PM
Georgetown
Prairie View 1:30 PM
Brown
Southern U 1:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Santa Clara 1:30 PM
Rhode Island
IUPU-Ft Wayne 2:00 PM
Dartmouth
FIU 2:30 PM
Wright State
Texas-El Paso 2:30 PM
Xavier
Penn State 3:00 PM
Bucknell
James Madison 3:00 PM
Ohio State
Yale 3:00 PM
Providence
Lamar 3:00 PM
Texas Southern
Miss Valley St 3:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Missouri State 3:00 PM
Alaska-Anchorage
Minnesota 3:30 PM
Georgia
Oklahoma 3:30 PM
Wisconsin
Stephen F Austin 4:00 PM
Austin Peay
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
St Francis-NY
USC Upstate 5:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Middle Tennessee 5:00 PM
Cincinnati
Char Southern 5:00 PM
Florida State
Princeton 5:00 PM
San Diego
Drake 5:00 PM
Valparaiso
Rice 5:15 PM
Washington St
Rider 5:30 PM
Georgia Tech
High Point 6:00 PM
Clemson
Emerson 6:00 PM
Hartford
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Jacksonville St
Monmouth 6:00 PM
Maryland
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Boise State 6:00 PM
NC State
Vanderbilt 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Gonzaga 6:00 PM
St Johns
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Bradley 6:00 PM
TCU
Alabama State 6:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Tennessee St 6:30 PM
Saint Peters
North Carolina 7:00 PM
Florida
Memphis 7:00 PM
Indiana State
Hofstra 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Samford 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Cleveland State 7:00 PM
Marshall
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Nebraska
SE Louisiana 7:00 PM
Tulane
Creighton 7:30 PM
Ole Miss
Murray State 7:30 PM
Portland
North Texas 8:00 PM
Arkansas
UNC Greensboro 8:00 PM
Indiana
Michigan State 8:00 PM
Marquette
Western Mich 8:00 PM
San Jose St
Stetson 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Texas-Arlington 8:05 PM
Montana State
Pacific 8:30 PM
Colorado State
Miss State 8:30 PM
Saint Louis
La Salle 8:30 PM
Virginia
North Dakota 9:00 PM
Utah
UCLA 9:30 PM
UAB
Baylor 9:30 PM
Illinois
Long Beach State 10:30 PM
Washington
Mercer 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 7 2nd Qtr 10:11
Western Mich 19
Nebraska 0 1st Qtr 12:25
Iowa 0
Western Ky 0 1st Qtr 14:45
(19) Marshall 0
UCF 0 1st Qtr 12:44
So Florida 0
Houston 0 1st Qtr 13:40
SMU 0
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Eastern Kentucky 11:00 AM
Western Carolina
NJIT 11:00 AM
Florida Atlantic
Michigan 8 1st Half 17:39
Washington St 0
Green Bay 9 1st Half 16:22
Georgia Tech 2
Fordham 12:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Furman 12:00 PM
Florida State
Illinois State 12:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Eastern Michigan 12:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
George Washington 12:00 PM
NC State
Ohio State 12:15 PM
Wichita State
Western Ky 1:00 PM
Tulane
La Salle 1:00 PM
Long Island
Binghamton 1:00 PM
St Johns
UNC-Asheville 1:00 PM
NC Central
North Florida 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Akron 1:00 PM
Belmont
Miss Valley St 1:00 PM
UMKC
Liberty 1:00 PM
Penn State
Colgate 1:00 PM
(21) Rutgers
Mercer 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Northeastern 1:30 PM
No Dakota State
(10) Maryland 1:30 PM
James Madison
Villanova 1:30 PM
Arizona State
Tulsa 2:00 PM
Buffalo
Boston College 2:00 PM
Brown
Wyoming 2:00 PM
Iowa State
Weber State 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Texas Tech 2:15 PM
Purdue
Washington 2:30 PM
Hartford
Fla Gulf Coast 2:30 PM
Clemson
Drake 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
UNC Greensboro 2:30 PM
Navy
(15) Nebraska 3:00 PM
UCLA
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Hofstra
Austin Peay 3:00 PM
Southern Miss
(17) Iowa 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Cal-Irvine 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Samford 3:00 PM
Georgia State
Siena 3:30 PM
Denver
Abilene Christian 3:30 PM
George Mason
Towson 3:30 PM
Rhode Island
Howard 4:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Houston 4:00 PM
Idaho State
IUPUI 4:30 PM
Texas Southern
East Carolina 4:45 PM
Wisconsin
USC 5:00 PM
Sam Houston St
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kent State 5:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Montana 5:00 PM
Princeton
(9) Kentucky 5:00 PM
Oklahoma
Arizona 5:00 PM
FIU
Northern Ky 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Stetson 5:00 PM
Marist
American Univ 5:30 PM
Gonzaga
UAB 5:30 PM
Loyola Marymount
Oral Roberts 5:30 PM
NC A&T
Stony Brook 5:30 PM
(8) Duke
TCU 6:00 PM
Colorado State
(5) Stanford 6:00 PM
(11) North Carolina
Monmouth 6:00 PM
Wagner
Portland 6:00 PM
Nevada
Stephen F Austin 6:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Alcorn State 6:00 PM
Rice
Lafayette 6:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Florida 6:00 PM
Georgetown
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Oakland
SE Missouri St 6:05 PM
Southern Ill
Florida A&M 7:00 PM
SMU
Northern Colorado 7:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Montana State 7:00 PM
CS-Northridge
(22) Syracuse 7:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Dartmouth 7:00 PM
Cal Poly
Utah State 7:00 PM
(13) Baylor
Toledo 7:00 PM
Virginia
Christian Brothers 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
South Florida 7:15 PM
Illinois
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
(3) Connecticut
Wake Forest 7:30 PM
Charlotte
San Jose St 7:30 PM
(14) California
Central Michigan 8:00 PM
Oregon
Fresno State 8:00 PM
San Diego
Boston U 8:00 PM
New Mexico
Missouri State 8:30 PM
Colorado
Ole Miss 8:30 PM
Utah
Prairie View 8:30 PM
Hawaii
Army 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Cincinnati 9:30 PM
Creighton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers and Vikings do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close