Aaron Austin Wants To be the ‘Go To Guy'

It was all too predictable. Following the early departure of Todd Heap, arguably ASU's greatest tight end of all times, to the NFL, the tight end position was virtually non-existent in the Sun Devils' offense. With the arrival of Aaron Austin, ranked the number one Junior College tight end in the nation last year, the maroon and gold faithful can expect this void to be quickly filled.

Austin who was voted the #3 college player in the nation by JC Football.com was recruited by powerhouse colleges all across the country early in the Football season. ASU arrived on the scene somewhat late in November. "ASU were one of the last schools to contact me." Says the tight end. "Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, Oregon, Oregon St., Washington, Auburn, and Alabama all offered me before ASU contacted me...But I was open minded about them. I didn't care that they came late to recruit me." The Devils made a quick impression on SuperPrep's No. 1 junior college tight end. The Fresno City College (FCC) standout had his mind set on signing with Tennessee. After ASU came calling, he went on an official visit just a few weeks later. Needless to say that the trip to Tempe made him rethink his earlier decision. "Coach Monachino was the first ASU coach to contact me, and he was real cool. I was real impressed by what they had to say. I knew at that point that I was either going there or to Tennessee …I came to ASU on December 11th. It was my birthday, and it was a great visit. My host player was Solomon Bates, and he was real cool. I knew he's someone that I could totally hang around with…The campus, weight room, all the facilities were all real impressive. I liked the academic staff too. They really showed you that they care, and they were ready to help you… When I was on the plane to ASU I was still thinking that I was going to Tennessee. After the trip ended, I was thinking that I don't know about going to Tennessee anymore (smile)." A week and a half later he verbaled to the Sun Devils, and oddly enough Tennessee never tried to have him reconsider his decision.

It's no secret that last season ASU usually had a whale of a time converting first downs in short passing situations. The absence of a reliable tight end was the main factor for that ineptitude. Naturally, this situation was appealing to Austin. But would it matter to him if there was an established tight end on the Sun Devils team? "ASU told me that the tight end position was wide open, and I had a chance to earn a starting spot…It wouldn't turn me off if there were already an established starter on the team like Todd Heap. It would be a great opportunity to learn from one a very good and experienced player. He would show me what I would need to work on…When I see someone like Heap getting drafted in the first round out of ASU, I'm thinking that I can do that too. The coaches told me I was faster than Heap, and they thought I could be a good tight end for ASU just like he was…I like that ASU throws the ball a lot, and they want to get the tight end involved." If the comparison to Heap seems a bit far-fetched, his coach at FCC Tom Caviglia begs to differ. Caviglia has gone on record comparing the incoming ASU junior to his fellow FCC graduates and current NFL tight ends Ryan Wetnight and David Sloan, and claims Austin is faster than both.

Austin has more than proven himself in the JC ranks. During his sophomore year he caught the ball 29 times for 419 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 regular season games. He was second on the team in touchdown receptions (he was the team's best as a freshman), and he averaged 14.45 yards per catch. More importantly, he relishes being a clutch player. "From my experience, if it's 3rd and 3, I'm the person the quarterback needs to go to. I'm the go to go guy who's gonna make the first down or score a touchdown." When we asked him about his skills he replied: "My speed and my routes are my strong points. I do need to work on blocking and releasing from the line…I run a 4.7, some guys said I ran a 4.5 but that's all screwed up (smile)." Although he has demonstrated outstanding abilities in the passing game, he enjoys being down in the trenches with the rest of the offensive line. "I know I have good skills at receiver, but I feel more comfortable at tight end. Sometimes when the offense is spread out, I like to be close to line to help my teammates block, and double team a defensive end if we need to."

He credits his wide receivers coach Fred Bilettnikoff Jr. (son of Raiders NFL Hall of Fame receiver) with helping him achieve his high level of receiving skills. His former coach is more than happy to reciprocate Austin's compliments: "He's a special weapon…very fast for a tight end. He never got out run. A linebacker or safety is too slow to cover him, and a cornerback doesn't have the size to bring him down…He scored 15 touchdowns in two years, which is a school record. When you pass to him, you know he'll get you the tough yard or make a big play… He's a good blocker, but sometimes he has a hard time staying low. But he never got over powered. … Coming from a small city, he was so quiet in the beginning. Now he can't stop talking (smile). He brought with him a championship attitude from high school. We feel bad losing him." Currently Austin is finishing up his studies at FCC. His last day of class is August 9th, and he plans to report to the team the next day. Therefore, he will miss the majority of ASU's pre-season camp. "I'm kinda bummed about missing part of camp Tontozona. But I don't think It's gonna set me back. ASU gave me a conditioning program, and I've been working out twice a day… I'm pretty excited to come to ASU. I do feel like I'm starting from scratch, but I also feel like I can be the starting tight end on the team when we play Nebraska."

In 2001, many would agree that ASU's passing offense was one of the better ones in the Pac-10, despite a minimal production from the tight end spot. The recruitment and signing of Aaron Austin is a clear indication that the Sun Devils don't plan on duplicating that tight end production trend in 2002. Austin has the skills and confidence to once again make this position a dangerous and effective offensive option in ASU's arsenal. It may not have been a long time since Todd Heap tormented opposing defenses, but Sun Devil fans are definitely ready for Aaron Austin to resume that role…

Recruit Profile Name

Aaron Austin

High School

Dos Palos HS, Dos Palos CA


Tight End




250 4.65

Date of Birth



Dos Palos, CA


"Ro" or "Arrow"

Favorite TV Show

The Simpsons

Favorite Movie

Behind Enemy Lines

Favorite Singer

UB 40

Favorite Food


Favorite Drink

Hawaiian Punch

Favorite Athlete

Terrell Owens

Favorite Pro Team

San Francisco 49ers

Person you most admire

My mother and dad. They thought me the right things from day one, and said that if I follow that path I'll be all right.

First Football Memory

My junior year we won the high school championship. I caught the first touchdown of the game with one hand in the end zone.

One Thing most people don't know about me

Even though I have good skills on the Football field, I don't brag about it off the field.

Why did you choose ASU?

My dream has always been to play in the Pac-10, and I found a good Pac-10 team that I like.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

If not in the NFL, I'd to own my own business in the computers field.

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