NFL: Caledonia can’t wait to see its two NFL players on field together
By Chris TomassonSt. Paul Pioneer Press CALEDONIA -- The Nielsen ratings should soar Thursday night in Caledonia, Minn., when the Vikings play the Tennessee Titans. The game will feature two of the best football players ever to come out of the to...
By Chris Tomasson
St. Paul Pioneer Press
CALEDONIA - The Nielsen ratings should soar Thursday night in Caledonia, Minn., when the Vikings play the Tennessee Titans.
The game will feature two of the best football players ever to come out of the town of 3,000 people in the southeastern corner of the state: Vikings receiver Isaac Fruechte and Titans defensive end Karl Klug.
Kickoff in the teams’ final exhibition game of the year is at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“Everybody in town is going to be watching,” said Carl Fruechte, who coached both his son and Klug at Caledonia High School and is now an assistant coach for the Warriors. “Everybody has been talking about it, and everybody is excited to see Isaac and Karl on the same field.”
More than a dozen people from Caledonia will be in Nashville, Tenn., to see the game in person. That includes Carl Fruechte and his wife, Becky, who made a 750-mile drive from Minnesota.
Klug is a fifth-year defensive end who signed a two-year, $3.75 million contract in March. Fruechte is a rookie receiver from the University of Minnesota hoping to stick with the Vikings this season, even if it’s just on the practice squad.
Fruechte is looking forward to going up against a player he considers “like an older brother.”
“I’m known him since I was real young,” said Fruechte, who has three catches for 28 yards heading into the Vikings’ fifth and final preseason game. “Hopefully, we’ll run into each other a few times and kind of bump pads a little bit.”
The two talked earlier this week after Fruechte survived the first round of cuts. Klug has been giving Fruechte plenty of advice since training camp began.
“I just told him not to sweat the small stuff, just control what you can control,” Klug said. “Don’t stress about the cuts and all that.”
Klug graduated from Caledonia High School in 2006, Fruechte four years later in 2010. When Klug was starring for the Warriors along with his twin brother, Kevin, he remembers how Fruechte used to help out at practice.
“He was in middle school and coach Fruechte would bring him in to demonstrate the drills for us,” Klug said. “He would show us how to do foot drills, working on our agility.”
Klug grew up a huge Vikings fan and said he was “like a kid a candy store” on the several trips he made to training camp in Mankato. He was a fan of defensive tackle John Randle, now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and recalls what a thrill it was when he met linebacker Greg Biekert.
The first NFL game Klug played was against the Vikings in the preseason. It was on Aug. 13, 2011, a 14-3 victory in Nashville that he says he will never forget.
“The first time I played them, I will admit that I was star struck,” Klug said. “Just seeing all the guys on the team, (Steve) Hutchinson, (Phil) Loadholt, (Adrian) Peterson, that whole crew. But I’m in my fifth year now, so I’ve gotten used to it. I’m not as star struck as I used to be.”
Fruechte also grew up following the Vikings, and said it would be a thrill to make the team. Klug said it would “really put Caledonia on the map” if it has a second player in the NFL.
It’s just a preseason game, but don’t tell that to the people back home in Caledonia.
“It’s exciting for the community,” Fruechte said. “I’d say that all the bars and restaurants there will really be hopping (Thursday night).”