Offensive tackle is arguably one of the most important positions on a football team. Vital to the outside run game and pass protection, an OT must be skilled in a lot of different aspects of blocking.
Sixteen-year-old Brady Aiello from Lafayette, California, believed he had what it took to be the Ducks’ newest addition to a strong offensive line. The Ducks apparently agree, as they sought him out as part of their recruiting class of 2015. Aiello announced his verbal commitment on June 20 via Twitter, much to the dismay of other schools recruiting him, including Nevada, Washington State and UC Davis.
At 6-foot-6 and 260 lbs, Aiello has the size to become a dominant offensive lineman. He is listed as a 3-star recruit by 247Sports, ESPN, and Rivals, and he shows good skills in both run and pass blocking. Hailing from Lafayette myself (also a former Acalanes Don), I took some time to interview the now-Senior on recruitment and his football aspirations at U of O.
Q: What were some of the main reasons you chose Oregon?
A: “Oregon was my number one choice going in. I wanted to stay in the Pac-12. When I was at Nike Camp, my parents and I got a full tour of the campus, facilities and academic centers. I didn’t just choose Oregon for football, but also for the academic support they offer.”
Q: What was it like being recruited out of high school?
A: “In the beginning it seemed like a movie. It was a bit overwhelming because of so many coaches rolling in and all of the camps I was signed up for. I played my freshman year, then didn’t play JV, then played junior year again. For me to have so little experience and suddenly get all this attention was a pretty big jump for me.”
I consider myself a pretty young guy at twenty-one and all kinds of life-changing decisions still await. I can’t fathom making a decision at age 16 to commit to a college and a football program. Aiello did make his decision early (at least verbally), but even so, that must be a big step for anybody in that position. Of course, I never even considered going to a school other than Oregon, so my decision was pretty easy … but then again, no one was coming to my practices to recruit me, either (they probably were … to watch someone else … *sigh*).
Q: How do you see the transition from high school to college football?
A: “You can’t slack off. You have to train because the competition in college is far greater than in high school. I am lifting, doing my drills, and going to practice every day.”
Practice at Acalanes High School during the summer is four days a week under head coach Mike Ivankovich. Aiello told me that Ivankovich has also been working with him on his blocking footwork, an important skill to have as an OT. Speaking from experience, I can say that Ivankovich definitely knows how to put his players to work. I may have been a victim of more than a couple verbal beatdowns due to “slacking” in my time on the football team … but then again that’s why I’m not on the Ducks.
Q: What is your main goal in improving as a football player?
A: “Fixing my technique. Getting better at my blocking footwork. Footwork is a big part of being a tackle, so just getting better at that and all the things that come with it.”
Q: Oregon football is known for its speed. Do you feel ready to play in such a fast-paced offense?
A: “That is part of the reason I was recruited by Oregon. They consider me an athletic tackle, and I can run well. They like me for my athleticism. I think I can keep up, I’m in good shape, and once I get up to Eugene, I will be in even better shape.”
Q: What has been the best thing you’ve learned as a football player at Acalanes?
A: “Always work hard. Don’t slack off. Don’t take days off. You will regret not working as hard as you should have that one day. Those days add up and you say to yourself, I could have done a lot better.”
Q: People in Eugene love their Ducks! Did the Oregon football culture play a role in your decision?
A: “It’s great playing in a big football atmosphere and knowing that so many people have your back and are cheering for you. Eugene is cool, too, because everyone shows so much support for the school. It was a really cool experience to see how many people were involved with the University.”
Aiello comes as the fifth offensive line recruit in the 2015 class for the Ducks, along with Shane Lemieux, Jake Hanson, Calvin Throckmorton, and Zach Okun of recent Fishduck fame. Oregon seems to be focusing on the offensive line so far in the recruiting process, as opposed to stocking up on position players as they have done in the past. I think this is a good strategy considering how important lineman are to a football team. The Ducks also still have room to pick up big-play threats and defensive stoppers in the coming year.
Although Aiello still has another year before playing at Oregon, it’s clear that he is willing to do what it takes to become part of the team. If Aiello and other recruits turn out to be anything like the Ducks hope, our offensive line will be a force to be reckoned with going forward.
Top Photo Credit 247sports.com