Perhaps the most surprising thing in Adam Thielen’s case is he doesn’t seem intimidated. Not one bit.

Maybe it’s because he’s on familiar turf literally. Thielen spent five seasons practicing with his Minnesota State Mankato teammates on these same fields next to Blakeslee Stadium. So he feels at home even though the stakes have changed. A year ago his Division II football career was about to reach critical mass. These days he is an undrafted rookie trying to snare one of the final spots on the Vikings roster as a sneaky-fast wide receiver with good hands.

No pressure right? Apparently not.

“It feels like just another football camp” Thielen said after a recent practice. “I feel honored to be a part of this but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”

He certainly has taken an end-around approach to getting here. A native of Detroit Lakes Minn. Thielen was a talented and well-rounded high school athlete but he wasn’t heavily recruited even at the Division II level. But then he was a bit shorter than his current height 6-2 and a lot lighter than 210 pounds. “I was tiny” he said. “I was like 155 pounds.”

He was a productive player in a good program for his first three seasons with the Mavericks. But he wasn’t the kind of guy who seemed certain to get an NFL shot. That started to change last fall.

Playing on a team that eventually reached the Division II national semifinals a senior on a receiving corps filled with young players Thielen’s numbers took off for the 13-1 Mavericks.

“He was the guy and everybody we played knew it” Mavericks coach Aaron Keen said. “Even so nobody could really stop him. He found a way.”

A very good season went to another level in the team’s seventh game against Southwest Minnesota State. With the Mavericks dDown by 14 points late in the fourth quarter Thielen made five catches for 77 yards in two late drives that tied the score. His TD catch with 39 seconds left forced overtime and the Mavericks eventually won.

But even after finishing the season with 74 catches for 1176 yards and eight scores — which put him in the top three in Mavericks history in career catches (198) receiving yards (2802) and receiving TDs (20) — Thielen wasn’t attracting much NFL interest.

Not invited to the NFL predraft combine Thielen instead went to a regional combine in Chicago. He did well enough there to be invited to a super regional combine in Dallas where Thielen surprised everybody — except himself — by running the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds.