Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Getting to Know: Vikings DT Shamar Stephen

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: May 16, 2014 - 8:57 AM

Name: Shamar Stephen

Position: DT

School: Connecticut

Background:

  • Missed just two games over the last two seasons; started 30 of 46 games at Connecticut
  • Led UConn with 10 tackles for loss, second with three sacks and third with 60 tackles last season
  • Held runners to 0.96 yards per carry on 43 running plays he was directly involved in last season
  • Named All-AAC second team, team captain, team MVP last season
  • Played both basketball and football at Long Island Lutheran High in Brookeville, N.Y.; was on the same basketball team as Magic small forward Tobias Harris

On what he knows about Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense

"I know about Coach Zimmer’s scheme, he is definitely a defensive-minded coach. He definitely brings a lot of ability from my position, especially being a two gap defensive tackle who can shed blocks."

On his top 30 visit with the Vikings

"Vikings were one of my biggest visits with it being my first. Being a Top 30 player I was definitely appreciative of the coaching staff and what they did for me. I am focused on playing and they gave me the opportunity."

On taking a leadership role last season

"That role was definitely a big role to fill. Definitely just to motivate and to keep players just to keep playing and don’t worry about the stuff that’s happening off the field. Worry about how we can improve and how we can win games."

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