Daunte Culpepper ready for UFL

culpepper:Quarterback Daunte Culpepper throws a pass to his receiver during Mountain Lions? traning camp.:Ashley Neal - State Hornet

culpepper:Quarterback Daunte Culpepper throws a pass to his receiver during Mountain Lions? traning camp.:Ashley Neal – State Hornet

Brad Schmidt

Daunte Culpepper’s life did not start as well as most would expect. However, Culpepper has used hard work, determination and raw athletic ability which have allowed him to persevere on and off the field.

Culpepper’s mother gave birth to him in a Miami jail while serving time for an armed robbery conviction. His mother-figure, Emma Culpepper, adopted him and raised him through high school.

“My mom was 62-years old the day I was born, adopted,” Daunte Culpepper said. “She raised me with tough love and taught me right from wrong.”

Emma Culpepper had also served as a mother-figure for Daunte Culpepper’s biological mother before he was born.

Emma Culpepper raised Daunte Culpepper in Ocala, Fl., where he attended Vanguard High School.

Daunte Culpepper participated in football, baseball, basketball, track and field and weight lifting while at Vanguard High School. He was named Mr. Florida in 1994, which is awarded to the top high school football player in the state.

Duante Culpepper met his wife, Kim, in high school and has been with her ever since. They have three girls, two boys and another child on the way.

Daunte Culpepper was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1995 Major League Baseball Draft, but chose to pursue a career in football instead.

Daunte Culpepper was recruited by many top football college programs coming out of high school. Notre Dame University, University of Florida, Florida State University and University of Miami, Florida all showed interest in the young quarterback. However, most schools lost interest due to poor grades, which is something Daunte Culpepper wishes he could do over again.

“I was a pretty good student; sort of a jokester,” Daunte Culpepper said. “I didn’t apply myself as much as I should have academically, and that is something I stress with all of my children.”

The University of Central Florida believed in Daunte Culpepper and made him become academically eligible. Mike Kruczek, UCF’s offensive coordinator at the time, was responsible for bringing in Daunte Culpepper.

Kruczek and the rest of the staff at UCF knew how lucky they were to get a talent like Daunte Culpepper.

“Just him being on our team allowed us to recruit other athletes to instantly be competitive at the 1A level because when he came, we were still 1AA,” Kruczek said.

Kruczek is currently the offensive coordinator for the Mountain Lions and reunited him with his prized quarterback.

“Daunte is the same guy I remember from UCF which is amazing because the NFL has a tendency to change people,” Kruczek said.

He joined two other players in the history of NCAA football to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a career.

The Minnesota Vikings selected Daunte Culpepper 11th overall in the 1999 NFL draft. He led the Vikings to the 2000 NFC Championship Game in his first year as a starter.

In 2004, he lead the NFL in passing yards with 4,717 and set the Vikings’ team record with 39 touchdowns.

Daunte Culpepper’s knees began to slow his career down. He had injured his ACL, PCL and MCL on Oct. 30 against the Carolina Panthers and was eventually traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2006.

Daunte Culpepper was asked by the Mountain Lions’ head coach Dennis Green to join the team. Green was Daunte Culpepper’s coach in Minnesota and said he is excited about the opportunity to coach Daunte Culpepper.

“Daunte is one of the best pro quarterbacks around.” Green said.”

Brad Schmidt can be reached at [email protected]