Chris Aiken is a 6-foot-2-inch, 305-pound defensive tackle prospect originally from Austin, Texas. He took a much different route than most high school football players upon graduation, as he joined the military before enrolling in junior college.
"I joined the army and I've served two tours in Iraq," explained Aiken. "I promised my mother when I got home that I'd get an education and that is definitely the most important thing to me right now."
Having served his time in the military, Aiken is well seasoned in life, especially when compared to just about every other player from the junior college ranks. He is now 24 years old, which makes him somewhat similar to former Cougar Chris Bolden in regards to age and military service.
"I feel a lot more mature than most of the other guys on my team," said Aiken. "While they're into partying and all that, I just find myself at home studying most weekends. I guess it's because I've been through more than they have and I know what is most important for me as a person."
Given his unique experience and focus on academics, BYU is an attractive option to Aiken in that it definitely isn't a party school. With what BYU has to offer, Aiken could see himself fitting in there.
"Coach Higgins was very blunt telling me about the honor code and that BYU was mostly a white school [Aiken is African American] and a Mormon school, but I thought all that was a positive," said Aiken. "Education is the most important thing for me and I think BYU is a place where I can best focus on the things that are most important to me."
During his time in the military Aiken gained experience working in the military police unit, which paved the way for him to pursue a criminal justice degree.
"BYU coaches have explained to me that if I get that degree at BYU that I'll most certainly get a good job," said Aiken. "I obviously want to play football, but to me getting an education and pursuing a career in criminal justice is the most important thing for me."
Aiken has been contacted by defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi and by Higgins. Higgins attended Blinn's spring game and was able to talk to him more about BYU after seeing him perform live.
"I had a good spring game," said Aiken, who is set to start this coming year. "I had two sacks and at least one tackle for loss. I'm happy with how I did. I feel that I've shaken a lot of the rust off after not having been able to play for five years [before] last season and I'm ready to go and show what I got this year. I feel about 100 times better than I did at this time last year when playing."
Aiken has yet to receive any scholarship offers, but is hopeful that those offers will come although he doesn't necessarily care about the amount of offers he receives.
"I just want good offers," explained Aiken. "I want to go to a school that provides great education opportunities, that's the most important thing, but I also don't want to play for a bad team. I don't want to play for a team that wins one or two games a year; I want to win and play for a winning program, although education is still the most important thing for me."
Early on Aiken lists BYU, Tulsa and East Carolina as his favorite schools, although he'll certainly consider all options. What may make Aiken a more attractive option to would-be suitors is that he's on schedule to graduate from Blinn this December, which would make him available to transfer midyear.
"Everyone tells me that it's a huge advantage to transfer midyear, so that is what I have my eyes on," said Aiken. "I'll graduate this December, transfer to a Division I school, hopefully, and get started early. I have all my goals in mind and hopefully things work out."