Many athletes grow up with dreams of playing in the NFL, but few have the opportunity. Washington Huskies linebacker/safety/special teams player Victor Aiyewa has the chance to get drafted this year, and this is the story about his future plans.
Aiyewa earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 and was named to the Pac-10's All-Academic second team after playing important roles in each of his four college years.
He finished his senior year regular season ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and 11th (tied) in the nation with 1.5 tackles for loss per game and No. 4 in Huskies single-season history. He also had 83 total tackles including 4.5 sacks.
This happened in his first year playing linebacker.
Victor Aiyewa is a remarkable young man who works hard both on the football field and in the classroom, and he represents UW very well. He expects to do well on UW's pro day on March 30 and get drafted by the NFL.
But his mother, Juliana Ogunfuye, was the one convinced by then-head coach Tyrone Willingham that UW had a great football tradition and focus on academics.
“I was sold on the whole idea of what Coach Willingham was trying to do with the team, and with the incoming players that I got to know a little bit,” Aiyewa said. “I had to listen to my mother and she had all types of reasons for me to be at UW and it was a consensus among the family.”
The thing that Aiyewa liked best about UW was the academics because the administration strives to make sure student-athletes take it seriously.
“I was able to excel in that part,” he said. “The way the administrators made us focus on academics was key to my success both on and other the field.”
Aiyewa majored in sociology and minored in pre-pharmacy. He plans to pursue a career as a pharmacist after his football career ends.
His GPA is 3.3, which is excellent considering the difficult minor. He will graduate in June 2011 and finish his minor in June 2012.
As a true freshman, Aiyewa played in all 13 games on special teams. He played safety his sophomore and junior years but was hampered by injuries.
The team needed help at linebacker his senior year, so he changed positions and started all but the Arizona game and did extremely well.
Aiyewa’s experience on special teams, safety and linebacker makes him a valuable football athlete, especially considering how fast he learned a new position, picked up schemes and did anything else the coaches asked of him.
He is a playmaker and the tackle-for-loss performance shows this.
“I am able to play fast and diagnose a play and use my athleticism to get through tight spaces to make the play,” Aiyewa explained.
Aiyewa has been told by his agent that he could go in a late round or be a free agent.
“But I’m hoping that performing well on pro day and my films will move me up to the middle rounds,” he said. “I’m the type of guy who is able to do a lot of different things for a team, so I’m looking for a team that will see my potential and draft me accordingly.”
It has always been Aiyewa’s dream to make it to the NFL. He had a breakout senior season and has the smarts and multiple-position experience to make it to the next level.
Aiyewa credits defensive coach Nick Holt and head coach Steve Sarkisian with creating a new mentality and culture that has prepared him for the NFL to compete with the best football players in the world.
“When you look at Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews, who played under Coach Holt [at USC] and you see them play it is the same type of thing; the fire, determination to make the play, intensity and ongoing motor that comes from the type of coaching brought to UW [from USC],” explained Aiyewa. “I’m prepared to be a fierce competitor.”
Aiyewa has held his own in practice against a very good quarterback in Jake Locker for the past three years.
“We had this thing going on since freshman year to see who was going to be the better player,” said Aiyewa.
“Jake was on a different level compared to other quarterbacks so it helped prepare me for other teams. Coach Holt made practice like a game experience with referees.”
Aiyewa is getting ready for pro day on March 30 with combine-like workouts.
“I just want to show these NFL teams that I am in the linebacker body type now but I’m still able to play safety,” he said.
He is working on his strength, speed and weight now and will be setting goals soon based on other linebackers. Aiyewa is also working on a highlight video that will be available at the end of March.
“I can play any defensive scheme,” said Aiyewa.
“I have the ability to play all positions including inside and outside linebacker. I honestly believe that I also have the ability to play stand-up backer. I may be undersized but I am faster and quicker.”
Aiyewa is willing to play other positions in the NFL, including special teams, safety, cornerback or running back.
“My academic accomplishments show teams that I have the common sense and ability to grasp certain types of schemes and other things they want me to learn,” Aiyewa said.
“I was academically successful because of the extra hours and efficient effort put into my studies. The same ideology carries over into learning schemes and applying it on the field.”
Aiyewa modeled his safety play after the late Sean Taylor and Bob Sanders, both hard hitters. He studied linebackers Ray Lewis for his leadership and Patrick Willis to play fast and behind the line of scrimmage. Mason Foster is another great UW linebacker (All-Pac-10 first team) who is a playmaker with a competitive edge and may get drafted in the second round. Aiyewa was happy to play and learn with him.
“My whole game is based on safety/linebacker playmaker and it comes from the different types of players that I have studied over time,” Aiyewa said.
Victor Aiyewa’s intelligence, hard work, experience, athletic skills, values and versatility make him an excellent candidate for the NFL. With a good pro day he should have the opportunity to get drafted and realize his dream of playing with the best football players in the world.