Out of State Aspirations

One of the most underrated prospects in the south region for this cycle has to be Johnathan Aiken, a DB recruit from Hollywood (FL). With offers from all over the country, including Nebraska, the talented defensive back says leaving the Sun Shine State for school is one of his top priorities.

Even though the offer from Nebraska was one of his most recent offers, it appears an official visit to Lincoln is likely.

Johnathan Aiken, out of Chaminade Madonna College Prep in south Florida says he's seen the recruiting sites, and where they have him ranked. But when you have the offers he does, that's the furthest thing from his mind.

"I guess that's their opinion, they think there must be a lot of players out there better than me. That's fine, but I have the offers, and that's what's important to me, not where I'm ranked. I'll just keep going out and working hard, and see what happens."

Who has offered you so far?

"I'll have to look real quick, I've got them written down. There is UCF, South Florida, Florida International, Wake Forest, Mississippi, Marshall, Illinois, West Virginia, Michigan, Rutgers, UCLA, Maryland, and I just got the one from Nebraska. There might be a few others that my coach knows about, and just hasn't told me about."

How long have you carried the offer from the Huskers?

"I just got it, like maybe last week. My coach told me about it, I wasn't sure about it myself, but he told me it was an official offer today. I thought they were pretty interested, because I was getting a lot of mail from them lately.

"It was just a quick moment at practice. I was walking off the field and my head coach was like ‘you just got offered by Nebraska', I was like wow. Then he was telling me about schools I should take an official visit to, and he said Nebraska was one of them.

"But to be honest with you, the offer kind of came out of nowhere. I got a couple letters, with information and whatnot about the school. But I was getting a letter here and a letter there, and I was like ‘wow, this is Nebraska'. That's how I got a lot of my offers, they sometimes come out of nowhere. I guess I blew up at a couple camps, then here they come. But with Nebraska, that will be one of those schools I take an official to."

Is that a sure thing?

"Yeah, we've got a bye week in week three of our schedule this year, and that will probably be when I head to Nebraska. I haven't had a chance to speak with the coaches from Nebraska yet, but my coach already has. I don't know a lot about the school yet, but my coach was pretty excited about it. Matter of fact he said he wanted that to be my first official visit, I was like, lets do it."

That was going to be my next question, sounds like you have very little knowledge at this stage about the Nebraska program, would that be fair to say?

"I don't know a lot yet, but I did watch them play last year, a few times. I was watching Ndamukong Suh whenever he was on television, I saw those games. Man, that big boy is a beast, that's all I can say about him."

Why so many early offers, what do you bring to the field?

"Really, I'm just a good athlete. I started out playing safety, and I play a lot of safety now. But the college coaches all say that I'm a corner at the next level. But see I'm real physical, I can come down in the box and do whatever you need me to.

"I play running back on offense too, but only one or two schools have talked about me playing offense for them. But I really think my future is on defense, and I can return kicks."

With one visit this summer already in the books, Johnathan will make one more trip out west before school starts back.

"I just went up to Rutgers last weekend, to a camp up there. And my brother is in the Marines, living out in California. So I'm going to visit him out there and go see UCLA while I'm out there, like July 18th or around that time. That will probably be it until I take my officials."

Johnathan was born and raised in the deep south, calling the Hollywood area his lifetime home. But unlike many recruits who grow up in the Sun Shine state, leaving the area for college is at the top of his agenda.

"I'm ready to go. I tell everybody that wants to listen, even the recruiters, that I'm leaving here for school. My head coach knows that too, so that's probably why I have so many out-of-state schools looking at me. I grew up in a couple rough neighborhoods around here, so as soon as I get a chance to leave, I'm gone.

"I want to be out of Florida, nowhere near it. And the heat down here is ridiculous, I tell people, if they want to come down here, better be in the winter. You can see the heat waves everywhere, it's just too hot down here."

How do your family members feel about you wanting to leave for college, is there any pressure to stay local?

"Nah, my family is going to support me wherever I go. And all my coaches think it would be good for me to get out of Florida, so I've got nothing keeping me here."

Let me ask you this. Is there an offer out there, if you got tomorrow, that would cause you to shut things down. Is there one out there you're waiting on?

"No, no offers like that. Nothing out there will get me to shut it down that quick. I'll have to take a couple visits before I could do that. I don't want to make a commitment like that, I have to see everything first, you know?

"I've only been to two other states, Ohio and when I visited Rutgers."

Is making a commitment something you want to do as soon as possible, or will you wait until closer to signing day?

"I was hoping to wait until around signing day, but I don't know now. After I narrow it down to five, I'm going to take these official visits, and if I like one more than the others I might go ahead and commit. Because I don't want some other guy to take my spot, while I'm waiting to decide."

What are the things that will go into that decision? In other words, what are you looking for in a college program?

"I always ask the coaches of these colleges about their APR rating, and how many football players they graduate. My family, they want me to get a good education. Let's say I get hurt playing football and don't get drafted, I still have to be able to earn a living. I want a degree in Communications, that way if football isn't there I can make something of myself.

"But I also want to see how close the team is, like away from the field. You know, like in the offseason, do all these guys still hang together, or do they go off and do their own thing? Let's say I go to a school like Nebraska, that's got to be my home away from home, I want to be with coaches and players that will have my back, and push me to get better.

"Is the team like a family? That's what I want to know. If I go to Nebraska I won't know anybody, so I have to make sure there are people at the school who support each other. That's what I'll be looking for on my officials."

When asked who his favorite football player of all-time was, there was little hesitation "Sean Taylor, that's my guy. I've still got his pictures all over the wall, he is #1 with me". His current measurements are 5-foot-11, and 183 pounds, with a consistent forty time in the mid 4.4's.

And his high school teammate Curt Evans, a wide receiver recruit, also carries a Nebraska offer. Johnathan said they could possibly both visit Nebraska the same week, also adding … "That's my boy, and we have a lot of the same offers. And yeah, playing together in college is something we've talked about".

Look for more updates on both prospects throughout the summer from Big Red Report.

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