Winter Park, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Former University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) offensive linemen Garth Heikkinen and Jake Bscherer started their professional football careers on Friday, taking part in day one of the Minnesota Vikings rookie camp.
Heikkinen, a native of Duluth, Minn., played four seasons at UMD and set new program records with 54 consecutive starts and 11 All-American awards, eight of those being first-team honors.
The former Duluth Central standout was named the winner of the 2012 Gene Upshaw Award, which is given each year to the best lineman in NCAA Division II. For that, he became just the second UMD player to ever be invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game.
A staple on the offensive line during his four years at UMD, Heikkinen was one of five senior captains during a season in which the team posted a program-record 46.5 points per game.
The Duluth native was the Bulldogs' first-four time all-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) honoree, being named three times to the first team (2010-12) and once being given honorable mention (2009).
Bscherer, meanwhile, played just one season at UMD after spending his first three years of eligibility playing at the Division I level with Wisconsin.
He was named to the all-NSIC first team following his one year with the Bulldogs, helping to anchor the left side of the team's offensive line with Heikkinen.
Bscherer has also been invited to participate in the Seattle Seahawks rookie camp, which will run May 9-11.