After a standout career with the Cobbers, Spicer, Minn., native Brandon Zylstra ’15 went on to play for the Edmonton Eskimos and was named Most Outstanding Rookie in 2016. In 2017, he led the Canadian Football League in receiving yards with 1,687 yards on 100 receptions. And in 2018, Zylstra signed a rookie contract with the Minnesota Vikings.

Why did you transfer to Concordia?

Football. My brother went there the year prior. I knew Coach Horan and had a bunch of friends from the area. I knew it would be an easy transition and that I’d be able to play right away. I had a place to stay and everything kind of fell into place for me.

Zylstra in Cobber Football game

What did you learn from your time playing football at Concordia that you’ve taken with you in your career?

Hard work. That’s something the Cobber football team stresses. Be disciplined. Detail your work. Details matter. That’s something that has stuck with me.

Do you have any standout mentors from Concordia?

Coach Willits is somebody that I always looked up to. I still talk to him. If I have something going on in my life, I call him. He’ll give me an honest opinion. I have a lot of respect for him. Coach Willits has cliches he likes to say and I’m still living by his cliches. As dumb as that sounds, they’re still working for me. An example is “control what you can control.” Whether in life, football, or whatever. I live my life by that.

Zylstra enters US Bank Stadium with Vikings

How does it feel to be playing for your home state’s team?

It’s a dream come true. Playing at the highest level in Minnesota is pretty amazing.

What was it like stepping on to the field for your first NFL game?

I was just so excited. Hearing that crowd go nuts … it gave me goosebumps. I told myself, “This is exactly where I want to be right now.”

Zylstra with Vikings in huddle

Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings