A Lion's Tale

Class of 2006 member Aaron Maybin offers a first-person account of his recruitment. In the initial offering of this two-part series, the Maryland prospect talks about the 2005 combine circuit and his first meetings with a trio of top prospects with whom he would quickly develop close bonds.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Aaron Maybin is a star defensive end prospect from Mount Hebron High in Ellicott City, Md. The seventh player to commit to Penn State's class of 2006, the intelligent, affable and outgoing prospect wasted no time becoming a leading advocate for the Nittany Lions' recruiting efforts. In the end, Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary and company added talent at every position of need. Fittingly, the head coach thanked assistant Larry Johnson, whose primary recruiting region, Maryland, yielded seven players. But Maybin played a key roll on the ground level, too, spending countless hours talking to his home-state friends. Maybin and his family were also the brains behind the unique signing-day ceremony held in Baltimore, where 11 prospects (nearly half the class) from three different states gathered to celebrate their first official day as part of the Nittany Nation.

But this crew was bleeding blue and white long before Feb. 1, especially Maybin. Besides being smart and funny, it turns out the youngster can also write — extremely well. It took him less than one day to write the following first-person account of his recruiting process. But it is so long and so interesting that it is going to take us two days to run it. The story will run in two parts, starting as Maybin recounts his attitude in the spring combines last year.

My name is Aaron Maybin. And I am a Lion! Whether I knew it or not, from the moment I picked up a football for the first time as a baby to the time I put on the hat which adorned the emblem of the school: the tradition, the dynasty; that, I will forever be a part of. There has always been a fire burning deep within my soul. A passion for the game I love so much. It is this passion that drives me to be the best. That lion's mentality takes my game to another level. And when the stakes are high the thirst for greatness only intensifies (and the stakes couldn't be higher).

The recruiting process for most blue-chip prospects almost always involves combines. May it be the Nike Camp, The Elite Combine or any other of the big-time combines. Hundreds of coaches pour into the domes or onto the fields of these camp sites to see the nation's best square off against one another. For me the Nike Camp was my stage, the field was my arena, and with so many of the scouts and coaches from the country's most prestigious schools represented as my audience, I most certainly was going to put on a spectacular show. I sprinted and jumped and completed the drills like my life depended on it. And then it came time for the defensive line to compete against the offensive line. This was my time: I circled the group of linemen, slowly analyzing each one, separating the weak from the strong, the quick from the slow, and the intelligent from the undisciplined. One by one I challenged them all. And one by one they fell. I made it my business to dominate my opposition so completely, that there would be absolutely no question who the king of the jungle was.

And at some point I saw them. They were familiar faces. Two recruits that brought that same mentality to the game as I did, that same look in their eyes, that same killer instinct. One by one they too sought after the best and the brightest. And one by one they demolished them. One was big Phil Taylor, a friend from back home in Maryland. The other was Jared Odrick, who I had met some time back on a recruiting visit. I saw them and they saw me. Our individual conquests had turned into an all-out competition of who could dominate their opponent more, who could get the biggest reaction out of the crowd, who would be remembered. The intensity level was so high I had to close my eyes to keep from losing composure. At the end of the day the three of us shook hands and exchanged numbers. The wheels were set in motion.

The Nike Camp was the first of many on a pre-summer circuit. As the school year came to a close, I went from place to place showing my talents and collecting offers from schools. I was at a track meet preparing to compete for the regional when I looked over and saw him. A big kid doing plyometrics with his team. He was well over 300 pounds but I was astonished by how light he was on his feet. He turned around and I realized that he was none other than Forestville offensive lineman Antonio Logan-El, a good friend and a teammate of my cousin. We had met some time back at an all-star photo shoot and hit it off. We talked a little bit about how things had been going and where our recruiting processes were taking us. It did not take long for me to realize that this kid shared many of the same qualities as I did and we were both looking for a lot of the same attributes in our school of choice. We became very close friends and kept in contact, calling each other often and discussing the possibilities of us playing together at the next level. We made a few unofficial visits together over the summer to schools that we both had a high interest in. As time went on and we began to narrow the field of schools we were considering, we began to realize how similar (almost identical) our list of favorite schools were.

Tomorrow: Aaron Maybin talks about his senior season, when he committed to Penn State and much more.


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