Since 2010, NFL cornerback Marcus Sherels has played on a season-by-season basis. Each summer that Sherels makes it through the Vikings training camp and onto the roster, it is a small victory for the 26-year-old.
This season is a different story.
Sherels proves first-hand that hard work and determination will go a long way in this league. As stated in an earlier VT posting, Sherels found himself signing a multi-year contract with the Vikes. Sherels was a restricted free agent at the time—he was also the first FA Minnesota signed. The new deal will give him $2.2 million over the next two seasons, including a $300,000 signing bonus.
A native of Minnesota, Sherels attended John Marshall High School in Rochester. He then went on to play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, earning a scholarship after initially joining the football program as a walk on.
Sherels did not find an easy path to the NFL. In fact, he went undrafted in 2010. Minnesota signed him to the practice squad during the 2010 preseason but cut him before the end of the month to make room for tight end John Nalbone. On October 13, however, Sherels was re-signed to the practice squad and Nalbone released.
He was on the team, but he didn’t get to play. Sherels waited patiently. Almost symbolically, he got his break on New Years Day, 2011. The Gophers alum found himself bumped to the active 53-man roster after safety Madieu Williams landed on IR with a nagging neck injury.
Sherels recorded his first NFL touchdown on September 30, 2012—ironically, his 25th birthday. The TD came on a 77-yard punt return against the Detroit Lions in a game that ended in a 20-13 win for Minny.
Sherels barely made the cut to stay with Minnesota in 2011 and 2012, putting up the bare minimum in tackles and minutes on the field. At only 5’10” and 175 lbs, Sherels proved one of the smallest guys on the depth chart.
Despite his lesser size and stats, however, something about No. 35 continued to intrigue Vikings fans and coaches alike.
No matter what his role, Sherels gave 110 percent in every opportunity he was given. His breakaway speed could not be denied, and he began to stand out on special teams.
During the 2013-2014 season, Sherels cemented himself as a vital part of the Vikings roster. Sherels missed Minnesota’s first preseason game after his father passed away; after spending time with his family back home, he returned to play in the third—and final—preseason game against Tennessee. That night, Sherels ran the opening kickoff back 109 yards for a touchdown and intercepted a pass later in the game.
Not only did the CB tally 46 tackles over the season (more than the previous three years combined), but he posted the highest punt return average (15.2 yds) in franchise history. Over 16 games, he returned 22 punts for 335 yards and one touchdown. Sherels is still young, and his work ethic and determination have impacted not only coaches but his teammates, as well. Vikings DE Brian Robison described Sherels as a “great guy [who] works hard and always shows up in a big way.”
Former Vikings LB Ben Leber, who played with Sherels during the 2010-2011 season, defines the CB as “tough” and a “humble leader.” Leber said, “Sherels has a subtle tenacity with which he works [on the team].”
According to an article by Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, Sherel’s agent Chris Murray said the following:
“It’s hard to find a utility guy that can do all [of what Sherels can do] and that you can trust, especially on the punt side. It’s hard to find a comparable [player] to him. When you look around the league, a lot of those guys are just purely returners.”
The deal includes just $500,000 of guaranteed money, which does protect the Vikings if performance falls and they decide to part with Sherels over the next two years.
If history has any credibility, though, you can bet that Sherels will do nothing but get better.
There’s no doubt about it – Sherels has earned this contract with Minnesota.
WHAT DO OTHER VIKINGS FANS SAY ABOUT MARCUS SHERELS’ RE-SIGNING?
“[Sherels is a] modern day Rudy. Lacks elite CB skills but makes up for it with his determination and punt-return skills. Good teammate, better Viking!”
– Kevin Jackson (Ontario, Canada) @Kjax54
“Great re-sign! [Sherels] showed he was a top punt returner and competent corner. Great speed and athleticism. Great option for a back-up and ST player.”
– Zach McClellan (Roseville, MN) @Zdiddles
“I feel that the Vikes re-signing Sherels is a good thing. It shows that with determination and perseverance you can achieve anything, as long as you believe in yourself. His story can uplift a lot of people who are going through and or went through the same thing he did.”
– Corey Williams (Milwaukee, WI) @corey_vikes
March 7 proved to be an overall good day for the Sherels family. On the same day that Marcus re-signed with the Vikings, his older brother Mike celebrated a promotion to linebackers coach at the University of Minnesota. Mike also played for the Gophers, although he joined the squad as a walk-on. The Star Tribune‘s Jim Souhan tweeted the family occasion:
What a week for Sherels bros. One becomes Gophs’ LB coach; one re-signs with Vikings. Marcus’ career a testament to perseverance, toughness
— Jim Souhan (@SouhanStrib) March 7, 2014