Grant Udinski is eagerly awaiting the Monday’s game.
Udinski and co-ed Central Bucks West graduate Mike Pettine Jr. will be in the somewhat unfriendly confines at Lincoln Financial Field with the 1-1-0 Vikings on Tuesday Night Football against the 1-0 Eagles.
Udinski’s position has been a position of assistant for Minnesota first-year head Kevin O’Connell’s special projects coach and special projects, while Pettine has the title of the Vikings assistant head coach.
“Well, it’ll be a really cool experience to be back there and in the stadium on the field instead of in the stands,” Udinski spoke about during a telephone chat lasting 28 minutes Saturday evening. “If it’s anything like games I went to growing up, there’ll be a lot of energy and it’ll be a lot of fun.”
Udinski joined The Vikings after two seasons working as an assistant on defense and offensive for Matt Rhule and the Carolina Panthers. Udinski was an assistant in Rhule’s graduate program. Baylor University staff.
Vikings Head coach assistant Mike Pettine worked with Kevin O’Connell two times before O’Connell took over as the Minnesota head coach.
Udinski was introduced to O’Connell by Brian Angelichio, now Minnesota’s tight ends coach and passing game coordinator during their time in Carolina.
“I heard the (Vikings) position came open and I interviewed,” Udinski stated. “I was unbelievably fortunate to end up here.”
Udinski’s principal job is to support O’Connell whenever it is it is. This could include handling anything that O’Connell’s desk has to do with or coaching, or any one of other duties. He is most likely to be in practice with quarterbacks.
For the special projects part of his work, Udinski works on everything from game-planning research to opponents to ideas and details to help the Vikings offense.
Udinski was an assistant tight end for Davidson before making the move to Towson in the fall of 2008, where he was able to walk through the ranks before securing an award for his last 2 seasons at defensive lineman. He was a star in the classroom earning CoSIDA Academic First-Team All-American honors at Towson in 2008, for the 3.94 undergraduate GPA as well as a 4.0 GPA in the Master’s level.Pettine met twice with O’Connell prior this season — first as a quarterback backup, and Pettine was the Jets defensive coordinator, and later in 2015 as a sophomore head coach for the Browns when O’Connell was appointed quarterbacks coach.
Pettine spoke to Jim Trotter of nfl.com that O’Connell didn’t seem to be “worth (much) as a quarterback (when O’Connell joined the Jets)” however “you’re going to make a hell of a coach one day.”
“It’s a testament to coach Pettine’s ability to evaluate (O’Connell’s) coaching potential,” Udinski stated.
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As a member of the Vikings Pettine’s head coach experience allows him to act as a sounding board to O’Connell. He can also make suggestions, and be involved in the coaching day-to-day which he is able to contribute in defense, offense and special teams.Pettine is an ex-head trainer of William Tennent and North Penn as well as an assistant to CB West assistant with legendary father Mike Pettine Sr., was a defensive assistant in the senior position for the Bears this season, following three seasons (2018-20) serving as the Packers the Packers’ defensive coordinator.
Udinski had been introduced to Pettine who was the head for Green Bay’s defensive team at that time. Pettine took Udinski out for breakfast at the 2020 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Udinski was just beginning to work as a player for the Panthers.
“Even with hardly knowing him, he was incredibly quick and willing to provide his time and mentorship,” Udinski told the press. “It turned out to be super-helpful down the line. It’s incredible how things come full circle.”
Pettine as well as the Vikings hosted a diversity coach summit in mid-May, where 12 coaches from minority colleges were involved all sorts of group exercises to mock interviews, and even interacting with Vikings players, while establishing connections with NFL players.
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“Ultimately, I’d love to be able to provide a template for the rest of the league because the hardest part of this was telling guys no,” said Pettine at an interview on May 18. “We could’ve had 40 or 50 in here easily. All would’ve been qualified.”
The 55-year-old Pettine ended up telling Udinski of the news that North Penn, with Udinski’s dad Jim on Beck’s coaching staff, defeated Neshaminy 35-28 in overtime on Friday evening.
Jim Udinski and wife Kerry followed Grant’s brother Reece who is the Richmond quarterback who completed 37-of-44 passes to gain three51 yards with two scores during the 30-6 win over Lehigh.They’ll complete a lengthy sporting weekend on Monday with a Vikings-Eagles contest at the Linc as well as other family members who are related to Grant Udinski’s.
It’s amazing Udinski wasn’t even offered an opportunity to coach at the college level until he was offered a graduate assistant position following Baylor co-offensive coordinator/running-backs head coach Jeff Nixon invited him to Waco to watch practices and attend discussions during spring practice in 2019. He even did not sleep in his car for the first week in the Walmart parking lot for the first week, until the defensive Coordinator Phil Snow found out and invited Udinski to stay in his home until Udinski could find an accommodation.
The following year, Udinski was in the NFL. A few years later, Udinski is still in Minnesota while the Eagles approaching.
“It’s an absolute dream come true every day,” Udinski stated. “There’s never a dull moment. It’s an unbelievable feeling to wake up each morning loving what you do.”
When playing, Udinski continues to do anything he can to help make O’Connell’s lives easier.
“He’s as bright as they come — sharp as a tack, hard-working and loves the game,” said North Penn coach Dick Beck of Udinski. “He’s everything you want.”