Moritz Boehringer: PR Stunt?

Moritz Boehringer: PR Stunt?

When YouTube was founded back in 2005, it completely changed the way people used the Internet. Billions of videos have been posted on the site in its 11-year existence, and some of those clips have thrust people like Justin Bieber and Moritz Boehringer into stardom.

Why, yes, that was Justin Bieber and Moritz Boehringer mentioned in the same sentence.

“MoBo” didn’t take the traditional wait-for-others-to-discover-you route to stardom like Bieber did, however. Instead, before being discovered himself, Boehringer acted as the discoverer.

Five years ago, Boehringer was sifting through YouTube in his hometown of Stuttgart, Germany and noticed an Adrian Peterson highlight video was calling his name in the “Recommended For You” section. Without hesitating, the 17-year-old clicked on the link.

What he saw changed his life. A lot. Instantly, MoBo fell in love with football, with Adrian Peterson and with the Minnesota Vikings.

Soon after he saw said clip, Boehringer formulated a new dream — to be a member of the National Football League in the United States. In his ensuing few years, he gained his first taste of the American version of football, playing three full seasons at the professional level and putting up videogame-like numbers.

The game came naturally for Boehringer, especially at the wide receiver position. Standing at 6-foot-4 and tipping the scales at 227 pounds, the German prodigy discovered his combination of size and athleticism offered him a distinct advantage against his playing competitors. During the first two of his three professional seasons, Boehringer caught 94 balls for 2,866 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Crailsheim Titans, which equates to an absurd 30.5 yards per reception and 2.3 receptions per touchdown.

When 2015 came around, Boehringer took his game to Germany’s Division I level by joining the Scwabisch Hall Unicorns. His success continued at the highest level of European football, where he collected 70 catches for 1,461 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading the Unicorns to a second-place finish in the Big Six, which Boehringer describes as a European Championship.

By now, Boehringer had gained interest from scouts in the NFL. Among the teams interested was his favorite squad, the Minnesota Vikings.

Coincidentally, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and his team of scouts found out about Boehringer the same way he found out about the Vikings — through YouTube.

“All we had was his YouTube video and his athletic testing,” Spielman said to the Twin Cities media regarding how Minnesota scouted Boehringer. “We spent a lot of time looking under every rock we could.”

Boehringer suddenly was being thrust into stardom through YouTube. He, like Bieber, was now the one being discovered.

His tape from Germany is similar to that of a certain former Vikings receiver. Yes, that receiver. From a relative standpoint, Boehringer’s dominance in Germany compares favorably to the way his all-time favorite receiver Randy Moss used to torch NFL defenses when he wore the Purple and Gold.

While the competition he played against in Germany probably isn’t on par with NCAA Division III football, and it is absolutely a legitimate concern, Boehringer’s tape displays the physical traits necessary to play wide receiver at the highest level. He ran a high percentage of routes executed within NFL offenses and his technique was fairly impressive (albeit against lackluster defenses) while also showing quickness in and out of cuts, soft hands and the ability to win the 50/50 ball.

The film itself shows enough potential to likely earn a camp invite from at least one NFL team. However, things quickly changed after NFL personnel put Boehringer’s athleticism through combine testing.

MoBo’s draft stock spiked after he put on a show for NFL scouts at the Florida Atlantic University Pro Day in March. Despite performing the drills on grass while other prospects had the luxury practicing on turf in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, Boehringer managed a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, a 39-inch vertical leap, a 10-foot, 11-inch broad jump, a 4.1-second short shuttle, an 11.15-second 60-yard shuttle and a 6.65-second three-cone drill, leaving scouts with wide eyes and jaws dropped to the ground. Each one of these marks Boehringer recorded would have slid into the top five among wide receivers in the 2016 draft class at the NFL Combine. Suddenly, Boehringer was projected as a late-round draft pick.

Following his remarkable Pro Day, Minnesota invited Boehringer to meet with the front office and to discover if he possessed the intelligence to go with the athletic ability necessary to play at the NFL level.

Once again, the German impressed Spielman and Co. Boehringer’s football knowledge was enough to get not only Spielman on board, but also offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

“That was the biggest thing. I knew the physical ability is there, it’s just how far he is. From a mental standpoint, he was off-the-charts,” Spielman said. “Even with Norv when they spent a lot of time with him, just watching football and going through plays and route concepts and things like that, the kid’s extremely smart.”

In addition to impressing NFL executives during interviews and blowing away scouts at his Pro Day, Boehringer prepared for the NFL Draft by spending time training with veteran receivers Pierre Garcon and Anquan Boldin.

“I had a long session with Pierre about press releases,” Boehringer said during his appearance on Move The Sticks with Daniel Jeremiah. “I never really faced it in Germany, and I know I have to be ready for it in the NFL.”

Throughout the entire process, Boehringer knew he would be elated to be drafted by any team. Deep down, however, the team that initially piqued his interest and became his favorite NFL organization remained atop his wish list. He even confessed his love for the Purple and Gold live on NFL Network’s draft coverage minutes before he was drafted.

So when Spielman decided to grab MoBo with the 180th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, the initial reaction from many was to chalk his selection up as a public relations stunt. And maybe the selection was solely for the PR boost, but if it was, it’s working.

However, on top of being probably the only person that will ever be compared to both Randy Moss and Justin Bieber, with the right coaching and hours of film study and dedication to his craft, Boehringer could develop into a productive PR stunt.

He maintains an impressive combination of insane measureables, positional intelligence and strong work ethic that may be enough to succeed in the most competitive league in all of sports. It may take a couple of years, but if Boehringer can successfully adjust to the infinitely higher level of speed and physicality of the NFL, he may one day become a special player in this league.

And who knows, maybe in a few years another European football prodigy will emerge after watching a YouTube highlight of Boehringer scorching Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall for six points in the same manner Moss undressed then-Packer Al Harris at Lambeau Field a decade ago.

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Be sure to follow @DrewMahowald and @VikingsBarroom on Twitter for content, humor and jargon pertaining to the Minnesota Vikings.

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Drew Mahowald

Drew Mahowald

Drew Mahowald is a student at Saint John's University (MN) pursuing a degree in media communications and a career in sports media. In addition to serving as an assistant editor at the Barroom, Drew also writes about the Minnesota Timberwolves for OnTheProwlMN.com. You can follow Jim Kleinsasser's #1 fan on Twitter at @DrewMahowald.



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