Dream realized: Service High's Overbaugh joins the Vikings
Jeff Overbaugh, meet the perfect storm. It's been brewing for a while.
The 24-year-old former Service High School star is, as many Alaskans like to say, "living the dream." After being signed by the playoff-bound Minnesota Vikings last week, the long snapper went to work on the NFL gridiron Sunday.
It was another mundane day: Overbaugh was perfect as always. He'd never missed a snap in his career at San Diego State University and the trend continued -- spot-on for all snaps for field goals, points after and punts in the Vikings' 23-10 win over the Chicago Bears.
On New Year's Eve, Overbaugh had quite the cheering section because his mother, father, and brother and girlfriend were all there. His uncle from Florida and cousin from Chicago also came up to see him. So how did he celebrate?
"Nothing too crazy," Overbaugh said by phone Monday. "Just hung out."
Overbaugh has played in some great venues. His new home, the two-year old U.S Bank Stadium, ranks up there.
"In terms of being brand-new, it was special," Overbaugh said. "It gets pretty loud in there -- couple folks yelling."
But the journey to the field, and earning the right to wear an NFL jersey, have been anything but simple. After graduating from San Diego State, Overbaugh began the arduous task of finding employment in a league where there are only 32 jobs for his position.
Since his graduation from SDSU in 2016 where he majored in psychology, he'd tried out with nearly half the teams in the league making it to an NFL field this pre-season with the Bears. But despite a perfect nine for nine on snaps, he was let go a week before the regular season in favor of an more experienced player.
Overbaugh had a few shots following graduation, but the more realistic opportunities came in 2017 during free-agent tryouts. It's easy to lose count of his travels, which began in 2017.
“Getting released by the Rams (last summer), Seahawks that first week, Redskins in the middle of November last year. Broncos on Thanksgiving last year," Overbaugh said. "And then this year, after I was released in Denver, I guess 2017 when I was released in Denver, Jags in June. Saints in about the 20th of August, then Bears the last week of preseason. Saints again first week of regular season. Cardinals, Lions, Eagles, Chargers, Redskins, Rams, Vikings…I don’t know if that all adds up, but that’s what I remember.”
As in many cases, his opportunity meant someone else's misfortune. In Week 16 of the season, regular Vikings long snapper Kevin McDermott separated his shoulder during a game against Green Bay.
Jeff was spending Christmas with Emily at her mother's house in Temecula, Calif. when the call came from Minnesota. He hopped a flight there which arrived on Christmas Day, then started working out the next day.
"That was definitely a great Christmas gift," he said.
Upon arrival in Minnesota, Overbaugh didn't know how significant McDermott's injury was -- since teams don't routinely share medical details regarding other players.
“I saw him walking around the facility; he was in good spirits, looking good," Overbaugh said. "We knew he was injured at a certain level but at no point until he was placed on IR (injured reserve, ending his season) did we know that he might be done. In my mind it was go to work and do the best I could."
Whether the aforementioned storm comes together remains to be experienced, but it's certainly setting up nicely. The Vikings are one of the hottest teams in the league; their 13-3 record this season is shared by only three other teams in the NFL.
"It's tremendous -- obviously incredible opportunity here with this team, and certainly a good spot to be in heading into the playoffs," Overbaugh said.
But despite his newfound success Overbaugh hasn't forgotten the journey, or those who've been with him. Both his family and his girlfriend have provided a place to stay.
“From everyone back home in Alaska, everybody at SDSU, even the guys I’ve crossed paths with with -- the Rams, Broncos, Bears, everybody -- support’s coming from everywhere," Overbaugh said. "Can’t state enough how much it’s appreciated. Definitely proud to be from Alaska and hopefully represent Alaska well and super-excited for the future.”
Sunday's victory actually cost him some game time. Minnesota has a first-round bye next week, and will host a divisional playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 14. Of course, it also means some extra travel for his family who left this morning -- but they'll need to leave the suitcases out.
"They're going back home for a little bit and then back for the next game definitely," Overbaugh said.
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