Bison Media Blog: Former Bison tight end Ellefson fitting in with Vikings

Former North Dakota State tight end Ben Ellefson is learning a new offensive system with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason with new head coach Kevin O'Connell

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings tight end Ben Ellefson (82) and running back Alexander Mattison celebrate during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium last season.
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports
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FARGO — It’s been a whirlwind of teams and cities for tight end Ben Ellefson since the day the Jacksonville Jaguars signed him as a free agent out of North Dakota State two years ago. He was waived on the final day of roster cuts only to be signed to the practice squad.

There would be a couple more trips between the practice squad and the active roster. He was waived the following year, only to be picked up by the Minnesota Vikings a few hours later.

“I probably haven’t had it as bad as some other guys,” Ellefson said this week. “They bounce around week to week. Getting cut to signing with Minnesota was pretty special, but also stressful at the same time because you learn you’re cut at one point and that same night on a flight to Minneapolis. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions but it’s all about the experience.”

This year, Ellefson is hoping the whirlwind calms down. The Vikings wrapped up a 10-week camp last week, a chance for the players to get used to new head coach Kevin O’Connell.

“It was 10 weeks of learning a whole new offense and a whole new system with the coaches,” Ellefson said.


Ellefson will most likely be competing with a couple other tight ends when training camp opens in July. The current depth chart has the team with five tight ends with Irv Smith Jr., the starter. Where Ellefson fits into the scheme remains to be seen.

“We have different talents and different skill sets so the more I can hone in on what I can do is what I’m focused on," he said. "I’m just fighting for a spot and that’s what it’s going to be like. Just looking forward to the opportunity and those preseason games are big.”

The first is Aug. 14 at the Los Angeles Raiders. That’s followed by a home preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, which is expected to be led by former Bison quarterback Trey Lance.

After being a mainstay in the Bison offense for four years, Ellefson is looking for a season without distractions like COVID-19 testing. He labeled his first two years in the league “unconventional.”

“Just with the whole COVID thing going on my first two years,” he said. “Moving forward and getting back to normal. I’m just looking forward to whatever normal was before COVID with the NFL.”

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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