Vikings’ newest star has come a long way


Associated Press

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.

The path for Stefon Diggs to last-play touchdown fame and sudden Minnesota savior didn’t start with such brilliance.

Diggs has only arrived at this stage of his life and his career, a Vikings standout on the verge of a Super Bowl, with an unrelenting diligence and a dose of humility.

For all the natural talent of a consensus five-star recruit coming out of high school, he’s sure had to work hard to get here.

Remember those first three regular-season games in the NFL? Not really. He was a healthy scratch on the sideline.

That’s a long way from the 61-yard catch-turn-run sequence that Diggs produced as time expired on Sunday that sent the Vikings to the NFC championship game with a 29-24 victory over New Orleans.

“He continually has gotten better over the past three years,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said.

“It’s awesome to see guys like that who work so hard have an opportunity in such a big moment and for them to make the most of it.”

Setbacks became a recurring theme for Diggs, who chose to stay in his home state and play for Maryland so his family could watch him more often despite offers from powerhouse programs such as Auburn, Florida and USC.

With the Terrapins, though, four different quarterbacks and injuries over three seasons hurt his production.

With substandard 6-foot height also a factor, Diggs fell to the fifth round for the Vikings to find one of the true steals of that 2015 draft.

In Sam Bradford’s first game for Minnesota in 2016, the lid-lifter at U.S. Bank Stadium against rival Green Bay, Diggs hauled in 13 catches for 182 yards and a score in front of a prime time Sunday night audience.

His first two games at home in 2017 were showstoppers, with two touchdowns apiece, but a groin injury at Chicago kept him out for the next two weeks. Wide receiver Adam Thielen, meanwhile, surpassed him as Case Keenum’s favorite target.

There was Diggs in the huddle on Sunday, though, with 10 seconds left listening to Keenum tell the receivers he was going to give somebody a shot.

“It meant so much to me to see my quarterback believe in me the last play of the game,” said Diggs.

His younger brother, Trevon Diggs, was in the stadium that evening for his first live NFL game. He’s a cornerback and punt returner for Alabama who just won a national championship. Their father, Aron Diggs, died 10 years ago of heart failure .

“He started me in football. He played a huge part in what’s going on now. That’s the biggest thing. Kind of try and thank him prior to the game, him and God,” Diggs said, “and try and keep that thing going.”

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