Brandon Zylstra
No. 16 – Carolina Panthers
Position:Wide receiver,
Return specialist
Personal information
Born: (1993-03-25) March 25, 1993 (age 29)
Spicer, Minnesota
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:215 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:New London-Spicer
(New London, Minnesota)
College:Concordia–Moorhead
Undrafted:2016
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
  • CFL All-Star (2017)
  • CFL West All-Star (2017)
Career NFL statistics as of Week 11, 2021
Receptions:23
Receiving yards:328
Receiving touchdowns:1
Career CFL statistics
Receptions:134
Receiving yards:2,195
Receiving touchdowns:8
Player stats at NFL.com · CFL.ca

Brandon Zylstra (born March 25, 1993) is an American football wide receiver and return specialist for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Concordia–Moorhead. After going undrafted in 2016, Zylstra signed with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

High school career

After playing football at New London-Spicer High School in New London, Minnesota, Zylstra did not receive any Division I scholarship offers.[1]

College career

Zylstra played college football at Augustana University for a year and then Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.[2][3] In 2013, during his first year at Concordia, he caught 41 passes for 774 yards with seven touchdowns. In 2014, while working a summer job on the grounds crew at Moorhead Country Club, he suffered a foot injury which required surgery which caused him to miss 1 game. He finished his college career with 1,932 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in 29 games with the Cobbers.

Zylstra was also an outstanding track and field athlete at Concordia. In 2015, Zylstra helped lead his team to a first-place finish at the Cobber Duals, clearing the bar at 6'8" (2.03m) to win the high jump, and traveling a distance of 21'6.75" (6.57m) to win the long jump.[4] He posted a personal-best leap of 22'5.75" (6.85m) in the long jump at the Thundering Herd Classic on February 7. Later in the season, Zylstra came away with the only event win for Concordia at the Cobber Twilight Meet. His 6'9" high jump tied the indoor school-record mark set by Joe Schmidgall back in 2000. He also won the long jump competition with a mark of 21'10" (6.65m).[5] Zylstra ultimately broke the outdoor record at the MIAC meet, clearing 6'10.75" Zylstra went on to compete for the Division 3 track nationals where he came in with the third best height in 2015. (2.10m).[6]

Professional career

Before the 2016 NFL Draft, Zylstra participated in North Dakota State's pro day and at an NFL regional combine in Arizona, posting a 34-inch vertical jump, a 4.64-second 40-yard dash and 16 reps on the 225 lbs bench press. While he went undrafted, he impressed scouts with his athleticism and catching ability.

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 2+12 in
(1.89 m)
219 lb
(99 kg)
32+14 in
(0.82 m)
9 in
(0.23 m)
4.64 s 1.64 s 2.75 s 4.54 s 7.19 s 34 in
(0.86 m)
10 ft 8 in
(3.25 m)
16 reps
All values from North Dakota State Pro Day[7]

Edmonton Eskimos (CFL)

Following college, Zylstra moved to Arizona to train with former teammate Griffin Neal. While in Arizona, he attracted the interest of CFL teams during tryouts and was signed by the Edmonton Eskimos to a two-year contract.[8][9] In his first season in the league Zylstra made a quick impact, catching 34 passes for 508 yards with 3 touchdowns in only six regular season games. In two playoff games he caught six passes for 108 yards. He was named the Eskimos rookie of the year for the 2016 season.[10] Zylstra had an outstanding 2017 campaign, leading the CFL in receiving yards with 1,687 (225 ahead of second place S. J. Green). He played a big role in both of the Eskimos playoff games as well, catching 12 passes for 221 yards with one touchdown. He was named a CFL All-Star after the conclusion of the season.[11]

Minnesota Vikings (NFL)

On January 3, 2018, Zylstra signed a standard rookie, non-guaranteed three-year deal starting at a $480,000 salary for 2018 with the Minnesota Vikings.[12] He made the Vikings roster, playing in all 16 games primarily on special teams, and had one catch for 23 yards against the New York Jets in Week 7.[13]

On August 31, 2019, Zylstra was waived by the Vikings.[14]

Carolina Panthers

On September 1, 2019, Zylstra was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers.[15] Zylstra caught one of two targets for seven yards in a Week 14 40–20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.[16] In Week 17, against the New Orleans Saints, Zylstra posted a career-high six catches on eight targets for 96 yards.[17] On December 27, 2020, Zylstra scored his first career NFL touchdown after recovering a muffed punt return in the endzone that was mishandled by Washington Football Team returner Steve Sims Jr. during the first quarter of a 20-13 victory for the Panthers. After the game, Zylstra was congratulated by Washington head coach Ron Rivera, who was his coach the previous season.[18][19]

On February 22, 2021, Zylstra signed a one-year contract extension with the Panthers.[20] He was placed on injured reserve on October 19, 2021.[21] He was activated on November 13.[22]

On December 18, 2021, Zylstra kicked off three times in place of Zane Gonzalez after he got injured in warmups against the Buffalo Bills, averaging 48.7 yards per kick.[23]

On March 16, 2022, Zylstra re-signed with the Panthers.[24]

References

  1. ^ Tomasson, Chris (April 7, 2018). "Zylstra is the mix for Vikings". Bismarck Tribune. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  2. ^ "Could small-town receiver Brandon Zylstra be Vikings' next Adam Thielen?". April 6, 2018.
  3. ^ "Brandon Zylstra trying to make his own path to NFL".
  4. ^ "Brandon Zylstra, Concordia". February 4, 2015.
  5. ^ "Welcome To The Outdoor Season Brandon Zylstra". April 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "Zylstra stares down Concordia men's outdoor high jump record,..."
  7. ^ "Brandon Zylstra, Concordia-St. Paul, WR, 2016 NFL Draft Scout, NCAA College Football". www.draftscout.com. The Sports Xchange. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  8. ^ Reusse, Patrick (July 27, 2017). "A rising star in Canadian football, Minnesota receiver might not be done climbing ladder". Star Tribune. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  9. ^ Marquette, Justin (April 14, 2016). "Zylstra offered CFL contract, still pursing [sic] NFL dreams". The Concordian. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  10. ^ "Receiver Brandon Zylstra follows two seasons of Eskimos rookies of the year". Edmonton Sun. November 3, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  11. ^ "Five Edmonton Eskimos named CFL all-stars". Edmonton Sun. December 6, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  12. ^ "Vikings Sign Minnesota Native Brandon Zylstra To Futures Contract". Vikings.com. January 3, 2018. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  13. ^ "Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets – October 21st, 2018". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  14. ^ "Vikings Announce Roster Moves, Set Initial 53-Man Roster". Vikings.com. August 31, 2019.
  15. ^ "Panthers' Brandon Zylstra: Claimed off waivers". CBSSports.com. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  16. ^ "Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons – December 8th, 2019". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  17. ^ Henson, Max (September 1, 2019). "Panthers part with Torrey Smith, Elijah Holyfield, Kevon Seymour to make three waiver claims. c." Panthers.com. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  18. ^ "A Touchdown to Remember for New London Grad". wctrib.com. December 27, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  19. ^ 19, 2021 "Panthers vs. Washington: Game Summary". espn.com. December 27, 2020. ((cite web)): Check |url= value (help)
  20. ^ Gantt, Darin (February 22, 2021). "Panthers bring back two wide receivers". www.panthers.com. Archived from the original on February 22, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  21. ^ Gantt, Darin (October 19, 2021). "Punter Ryan Winslow signed to active roster, Brandon Zylstra placed on injured reserve". Panthers.com.
  22. ^ Bryan, Will (November 13, 2021). "Panthers activate Juston Burris, Brandon Zylstra". Panthers.com.
  23. ^ Gantt, Darin (December 19, 2021). "Notebook: Zane Gonzalez injury leaves Panthers scrambling". Panthers.com.
  24. ^ Gantt, Darin (March 16, 2022). "Panthers agree to terms with Brandon Zylstra". Panthers.com.