Aikens was arrested after his freshman season at Illinois. He was charged with felony possession of stolen property in connection with theft of electronics from a dorm room in 2010. After pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft, Aikens was dismissed from the team by former Illini head coach Ron Zook, despite starting five games at safety en route to being named to Big Ten's all-freshman team.
Zook was hired by Packers coach Mike McCarthy during the offseason and will serve as an assistant special teams coach.
Aikens would end up enrolling at Liberty University, a school he had agreed to join as a basketball player before accepting a scholarship from Illinois to play football in 2009. After sitting out the 2010 season, Aikens intercepted seven passes and forced six fumbles while adding three sacks during his three seasons with the Flames. He was an all-conference performer all three seasons, including a first-team choice as a senior, when he was named a second-team All-American by the NFL Draft Report. During that final season, he intercepted three passes and led the team with 62 tackles.
More than a handful of teams admit they made a mistake when Aikens was not on their lists to receive an invitation to attend the Scouting Combine, considering his three strong seasons playing boundary cornerback and a solid week at the Senior Bowl.
Aikens' last chance to show off his athletic ability came during Liberty's pro day on March 4. Aikens, at 6-foot 5/8, ran his 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds with a 35-inch vertical. With the combination of athleticism and length — his 32 1/4-inch arm length would have ranked seventh at the Scouting Combine — he has risen into the fourth or fifth round, according to NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas.
"One of the more intriguing small-school candidates in the game, put himself on the radar with his combination of size and strength," Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage, a former NFL general manager, wrote at SeniorBowl.com. "Has some athletic stiffness, but is very strong at the line-of-scrimmage and appeared to have enough long speed to hang as a corner."
As a football star at Harding University High School in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., Aikens was selected the RedZone Old Spice Player of the Year for the state of North Carolina as a senior after throwing for 1,500 yards, accounting for 22 total touchdowns and intercepting six passes. In basketball, with his father serving as coach, he averaged 26.0 points per game for is career.
Aikens tallied three interceptions, three forced fumbles, two sacks and 49 tackles upon his return to football in 2011. In 2012, he intercepted one pass, forced three fumbles and added 51 tackles while averaging 10.5 yards on four punt returns. As a senior, Aikens registered three interceptions, one sack and 62 tackles.
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.