Introducing the 2007 Class: Oliver Aaron

Introducing the 2007 Class: Oliver Aaron

Playing high school football in the same college town as the national champions, Gainesville's Oliver Aaron knows all about a big game atmosphere. The 6-2 205 linebacker's long list of accolades certainly validates that notion. Nonetheless, many teams passed on this talented athlete, who's intent on rewarding ASU for the faith they've showed in him.

Oliver Aaron was recruited by ASU's safeties coach Matt Lubick when he was still coaching at Ole Miss. "Right when he got the job at Arizona State he gave me a call to say that he was the coach there," recalled Aaron. "He asked me if I heard about the school and I said ‘no.' But I took a shot at it and ended up signing."

The coach-player relationship naturally played a big part in Aaron's decision to travel cross-country to don the maroon and the gold. "I really like Coach Lubick. He doesn't tell you what you want to hear, he tells you what you need to know," explained Aaron. "He told me ‘your grades aren't right. You need to do this and this to get qualified.' He sat down with my family and talked about my studies. I worked hard in school and now I'm qualified."

The linebacker was offered a scholarship by ASU only after he officially visited Tempe. Yet, even before Aaron tripped to Arizona State he knew that he wanted to spend the next four or five years there. "One of my favorite players, Terrell Suggs, went there and when I started researching the school I didn't realize the history of Arizona State and how many players went from there to the NFL," he said. "You can tell that they are a good program. When I came on my visit, I loved talking to coach Erickson and the rest of the players. I talk a lot now to (fellow 2007 signee) Bo Moos who was on the visit with me."

Florida International was the only other Division One program to seriously recruit Aaron. The linebacker has no ill feelings towards other schools such as hometown University of Florida, as well as Virginia, who showed some interest at one time but never really pursued him in earnest. "I didn't know if I was gonna go D-I or not, but I just wanted to go somewhere," he said. "I felt that those D-I teams don't need me to get where they need to go and I don't them to get where I need to go. Arizona State took a chance on me and I'm gonna give them all I got."

When Aaron made the choice between both schools, distance never factored in a negative way for the Sun Devils. "FIU or Arizona State is five hours either way from home. FIU is five hours driving and Arizona State is five hours flying, and I'd rather fly than drive," he commented. "I also know that Arizona State is the better opportunity for me, so it doesn't matter if I‘m playing away from home."

His surroundings have already thought Aaron a great deal about the college game. Imitation is the highest form of flattery and Gainesville High School, according to the linebacker, was guilty of trying to pattern itself after the Gators. "We ran practice like Florida runs the practice, and some other stuff we did was like the college level," he claimed. "You're just in an atmosphere where everybody wants to be the best."

And Aaron was certainly at the top of his class in a football sense. As a senior, he totaled 126 tackles, eight sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, and earned All-Area and All-State honors. He was named The Gainesville Sun's Defensive Player of the Year and was named as one of Florida's top-50 players by the same publication. Playing at defensive end as a junior, he recorded 114 total tackles, 10 sacks and seven additional tackles-for-loss, earning him first-team All-Area and second-team All-State honors.

Aaron, who ranked as the No. 44 weak side linebacker in the nation by Scout.com, had an impressive performance at the network's 2006 Jacksonville Combine where he recorded a 39-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 4-inch broad jump, the top marks in those events by any camp participant. He also lettered in track at Gainesville High School and participated on the school's weightlifting team.

Aaron was recruited to ASU to play safety. Yet, in an interview to DevilsDigest.com at the end of spring practice, Sun Devil defensive coordinator Craig Bray indicated that the current depth at safety just might have the Gainesville standout play at his original position for the maroon and gold. The incoming Sun Devil freshman indicated that he has no preference in playing either role.

"I have to learn the safety aspect if I'm gonna play it," he noted. "I have good speed and I get to the ball fast. I'm a selfish player in the sense that I want to be on every tackle. I'm not gonna knock you off a tackle, but I'm not gonna sit there either waiting for you to make it. I need to work on my technique. People say that I fly around making plays, but I sometimes look goofy doing it. Sometimes I jump and make a tackle, instead of falling and making the tackle."

These days Aaron is conditioning through what he calls "the Rocky exercise" as in the Rocky Balboa movies, by lifting logs and employing other unconventional methods. While he runs a speedy 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, he said that during his younger years he was clocked at a 4.3. "As I got older I got fatter and slower," he quipped. "So I'm working on getting back to that speed." He plans on continuing his workouts, as well as enrolling in classes at ASU, around the first week of July. He's preparing himself for the inevitable adjustment. "I need to realize that college is no joke, but once I get into the system I'll be fine," he remarked. "I don't need a long summer break. It's just like that saying ‘idle hands are the devils tools (laughs).' Being just a month off (of high school) is cool for me."

Just like many other high school stars around the nation, playing at the college level will involve a sharp learning curve and the probability of a redshirt year. Oliver Aaron, who's known much success during his prep career, feels confident that he can be an early contributor for his college team. "I plan on working really hard, getting the system down and playing my freshman year," he said. "If I'm the better player in the coaches' eyes, then I guess I'll play. I'm not looking to take anyone's spot, I'm just going to play my game and hopefully it speaks for itself."

Recruit Profile

Name

Oliver Aaron

High School/Junior College

Gainesville HS (Fla.)

Position

LB

Height

6-2

Weight

205

Date of birth

10/21/88

Birthplace

Chesapeake, Virginia

Nickname

"Beast and OA"

Favorite TV show

"Family Guy"

Favorite movie

"Zoro"

Favorite singer/band

" Castor Troy"

Favorite food

"Omelet"

Favorite drink

"Gatorade"

Favorite athlete

"Ray Lewis"

Favorite pro team

"Baltimore Ravens"

Person you most admire

"My dad. He sacrificed so much and worked so hard to get where he is. Nothing came easy to him. He's a self-made man."

First football memory

"Conditioning in the ninth grade. I didn't play football before that age, and I was going through all these conditioning drills thinking about quitting because it was so hard."

One thing most people don't know about me

"I'm actually a nice person, and people don't know that because I play nasty on the field."

Why did you choose ASU?

"I just fell in love with the school when I visited there."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"In the NFL. If that doesn't work out I'd like to be a Psychologist."

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