Austin Aikens knows factors for decision

Vanderbilt has already added a trio of wide receivers to this year's recruiting class including Andre McDonald, Corey Batey, and Jaborian McKenzie. They may look to add another in Tampa's Austin Aikens. The 6-foot, 180-pound athlete was the top receiver for Plant, the 2011 Florida 8A state champion.


"It was a great season," said Austin Aikens. "The team really gelled down the stretch. At the beginning of the season there were many new players. Once we got used to one another and knew each other's tendencies we came together as a group to win a state championship."

Aikens was slowed by a leg injury and wasn't a factor in the final victory over Miramar in the Citrus Bowl. In the Panthers opening playoff game against Orlando Boone, Aikens had seven receptions for 136 yards and four touchdowns.

"Personally, I feel like I had a great season," Aikens said. "When they called my number, I made the play. It's a game of consistency and teamwork. Instead of trying to make the big splash play, I did what the team needed. Sometimes they needed me to bring in possession pass to pick up the first down or for me to throw a block to spring someone to the outside to score."

Aikens recently named his top five of Cincinnati, Iowa, Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Western Kentucky. He also holds offers from Boston College, Florida International, Temple, and Toledo. Chris Beatty is the coach/recruiter for the Commodores.

"I'm hoping to find a good college environment to be in for the next three or four years," said Aikens on recruiting. "I'd like to play for a strong coach who has been there awhile. It's always important to surround yourself with good people. I want to play for quality coaches and be a part of a team with good camaraderie. Most importantly is being at a school where I'll receive a first-rate education."

Aikens was named second team All-Hillsborough County. He had 37 receptions this season for 704 yards and 11 touchdowns. Having played against top competition in talent-rich Florida, Aikens feels like he can come in and become an early contributor.

"I use my height well and can go up and bring down the catch in traffic," said Aikens on his game. "I'm good after-the-catch at making moves on the defenders to pick up more yardage. Plus, I'm willing to do all the extra work like getting down field to make the key block."

Aikens is in the process of setting up official visits. He said he will probably not have a decision made before signing day. He plans to running track in the spring for Plant High School before graduation in June.

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