Texas DT Puts BYU at the Top

BYU Coaches are hitting the recruiting trail hard in an effort to find talented defensive linemen. The Cougar staff found one from Blinn Junior College that possesses a different outlook on life due to his prior experiences in the military, an outlook that makes him a good candidate for Coach Mendenhall's program.

Chris Aiken served two tours of duty fighting for the freedom of the Iraqi people overseas. Since then he has traded in his Army uniform for a football jersey. For Aiken, the fight now has turned towards earning a scholarship offer once he finishes up with one more semester that will have earned him his degree.

"After next week I'm going to be going to summer school so I can try and get things done," Aiken said. "I'm trying to get things done so I can transfer in December and everything, but really I'm just waiting for that official offer. I just want to hurry up and get my summer school done so I can get my associates degree so I can transfer. Many coaches have told me that [they] want to get to know me and have said things like, ‘We've heard great things about you,' but really I'm just waiting for that official letter that says, ‘We want to offer you a full ride.'"

Although he'll miss the next Division I college season, Aiken feels he can be eligible to transfer prior to the start of the next spring.

"I've got one more semester and feel I can finish everything up and be ready to go in December," Aiken said. "I've talked to a lot of coaches. I've talked to Coach Higgins a lot from BYU. I talk to him and he's really cool. There was a coach from Tulsa that came down and I talked to him. There was a coach that came down from East Carolina. I also talked to a coach from Louisiana Tech and Louisiana Monroe and Texas Tech, so there are a lot of coaches that I've talked to and are interested in me. They just tell me things like ‘We'll be watching you' and those kinds of things, but I want a coach to tell me ‘We like your skills and we want you,' those types of things, and so that's what I'm waiting for."

Having played two consecutive years at the junior college level without using his redshirt, Aiken would have three years to play two at the Division I level.

Although there are many colleges looking into Aiken, the college that has been recruiting Aiken the hardest is BYU. As Aiken mentioned, the big Texas defensive tackle has spoken with Coach Higgins, and he's also spoken with Cougar defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi.

"I guess BYU needs to fill their defensive tackle spot and that's what I've been told," Aiken said. "They like junior college players with some experience under their belts to come in willing and ready to play. I'm a hard worker and wherever I go I'm going to give it 110 percent. Right now I'm running on my own and I'm already one of the strongest players on my team. Even though school is out I'm not taking time off. I'm still working hard."

Aiken is strong and can put up some serious numbers in the weight room. His strength would be a welcome addition to any defensive line.

"Right now I'm 6'2" and 305 [pounds]," said Aiken. "I'm benching 425 and I inclined 365. I'm squatting 600 pounds and I power clean 275. I did 225 pounds 27 times also have a 25-inch vertical. I ran a 5.2 forty. The coaches tell me that I'm good where I'm at with my strength, but I believe I can do better in my max. When we tested I did some reps three times before maxing out, so I believe I can do better."

Aiken is constantly reminded by college recruiters how strong he is, and how well he can play football on the field. He's heard all the coach-speak many times over, but there was one coach that surprised him because his approach was simply unique.

"I don't want to be the next Glenn Dorsey or Warren Sap, I want to be the first Chris Aiken," he said. "Everybody says they have players they want to be like, but I want everyone to say they want to be like me because I'm a good example and player. I want people to say, ‘I want to be like Chris Aiken.' All the coaches tell me that I'm a big strong guy and that they can use me. They tell me that they like my maturity and things like that, but I'm sure they tell everyone those things. I'm looking for, well, like what Coach Higgins brings. When I call him up he asks me how I'm doing and how's life. He doesn't just talk about football but talks to me about life, and that's one reason why I'm leaning towards BYU. They talk to me on a level other than just football. They talk to me about life and school and about my family. All of those things we talk about. I just think it's really cool. I plan on heading out to BYU and seeing things in person. I want to see if everything they say on the phone is really as good as it is in person. I want to feel as good as I do when I'm talking to them on the phone as I do in person. Hopefully I do."

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