Vic So’oto has seemingly always been “fighting struggles,” to use his words.
“I’ve been fighting to be relevant; fighting something I can’t control, like not being invited to the combine or a Senior Bowl,” he said.
Now he’s fighting to step out of the shadow of having been undrafted. It’s a struggle he would seem to be winning.
So’oto is running with the twos at outside linebacker. He saw a lot of playing time in Cleveland on Saturday night.
“I had four tackles on the coaches’ sheet,” he said.
At 6-3, 263, So’oto is a big, powerful linebacker who ran a 4.65 40 and did 35 reps of 225 pounds at his pro day. Hey, those are big-time numbers. What gives?
“Definitely out of position. Last year was my only year starting,” he said of his career at Brigham Young, where he was recruited as a highly touted tight end prospect, but was moved to linebacker briefly before sustaining a broken foot and then being moved to defensive end, where he sat the bench.
“We had a load of light, fast linebackers and defensive ends,” So’oto said, and this, of course, was Brigham Young in the pass-happy Mountain West, where power players tend not to be relevant because the Mountain West doesn’t play power football. So’oto does.
“I think Vic is definitely a power player. We liked that coming out of BYU,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said.
The Packers were one of three teams interested in signing So’oto; Miami and Arizona were the other two. He said his wife made the decision. Interestingly, it was So’oto’s mother that made his college choice for him.
“I went on a recruiting trip. When I came home, my room was blue and my mother said you’re going to BYU, and that was that,” So’oto said, flashing a big smile.
He’s more forceful in how he deals with offensive linemen.
“It’s fun to go up against linemen for me,” he said. “I believe in what I can do and I’m confident I can do what I have to do to make the team.
“I definitely think I’m one of the stronger guys on defense and I’m as fast as a lot of guys out there. The way (linebackers coach) Kevin Greene teaches his guys to smash guys in the mouth and establish the physical game, I like that. Going through people is the easy route for me.”
He’s certainly turned heads through two weeks of training camp. So’oto is without question a strong contender for a roster spot; he’s one of the pleasant surprises of training camp, a possible Frank Zombo-type Ted Thompson discovery that was lost on the bench and out of position at Brigham Young.
“I’m a banger,” So’oto said.
Banging is good.