A tangible hero for the hordes of American football fans in Germany, Moritz Böhringer faces a decisive 2017. After developing his trade behind the scenes, is he ready for game time in the NFL?
Little more than a year ago, the Minnesota Vikings made American Football history by drafting the first European player into the National Football League (NFL) who had never played college football. Germany's Möritz Böhringer caused a stir with his unusual route into the NFL and sparked even more interest in the sport in his home country.
Now though, the time is approaching to find out whether Böhringer's fairytale story has another chapter. Having signed a futures/reserves contract in January of this year, the 23-year-old will likely be a part of the Vikings' training camp in July. He has already been involved in this year's rookie training camp.
By mid to late August, Böhringer will likely know whether or not he is going to make the Vikings final 53-man roster for the 2017-18 season. Böhringer is keen to improve further on the steps he has taken over the last year, and although the young man's first real year away from home has been difficult at times, he says he feels very comfortable in Minnesota.
"It was fun. Basically it was my first time living outside of home, so that was a big challenge too. (But) I feel really comfortable here and I just enjoy everything here," Böhringer told Vikings Media.
In an interview with ESPN, Böhringer made clear how much he has learned in his first 12 months, both on and off the field. Being a practice-squad player can often be a lonely life, but Böhringer has overcome the language barrier and the increased intensity to seemingly make the most of the time.
"Just improve overall as a receiver... and just go on the field and show something," Böhringer said.
His developments have been well documented by local media and fans, and he has also taken strides in understanding the nuance of his position.
Given that the Vikings drafted another two wide receivers in this year's draft, Böhringer will have his work cut out for him even to make the practice squad. However, there is an expectation among experts and Vikings' staff as well as the fans that the 23-year-old will be able to show off his improvements in the approaching preseason in August - something he wasn't able to do last time around.
If the Stuttgart-born athlete can take his chance in the Vikings four preseason games, then perhaps a spot on the final roster isn't beyond the realm of possibility.