Former Desert Hills star Needham signs with NFL team

Mike Needham signed with the Minnesota Vikings after his stellar career at Southern Utah University. October 2015, location not specified | Photo courtesy Southern Utah University Athletics, St. George News.

ST. GEORGE — After leading Southern Utah University to its second Big Sky Conference football title last fall, Mike Needham is taking the next big step in his career after being signed by the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League.

Mike Needham signed with the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League after his stellar career at Southern Utah University. Date, location not specified | Photo courtesy Southern Utah University Athletics, St. George News

The 6-foot, 3-inch, 230-pound linebacker initially signed with the Arizona Cardinals but was released after the team’s rookie camp in mid-May. However, an injury to a Minnesota player opened up a roster spot for the former Desert Hills High School star this month.

“I’m just tickled to have the opportunity,” he said. “It’s been a bit stressful finding a team.”

Needham admits he may be a bit undersized for an NFL linebacker but said, “They wouldn’t have signed me if they didn’t believe in me. I believe I can help them on special teams.”

Needham had a stellar career at SUU, being named to the all-Big Sky team three years in a row. He led the team last season with 100 tackles, 69 solo, including seven for a loss, with two fumble recoveries and seven pass breakups.

He will report to the Vikings preseason camp July 23. To prepare, he has been working out with Cade Cowdin, a former star at Dixie High School and Utah State and owner of Official Strength and Athletics in St. George.

“I’ve worked with him the last 3-4 years,” Needham said. “I’m at 230 (up from 225 pounds), that’s where they (the Vikings) wanted me.”

He and his wife, Jessica, have a 10-month-old daughter, Neely, and live in St. George.

His signing with Minnesota also completed an NFL trivia question. Needham said he read somewhere there was a player from a Utah school on every NFL team except one. “Before me, there was no one from Utah on the Vikings.”

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