By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 3, 2017) — Blake Aragon is a late bloomer by football recruiting standards, largely because of an injury that limited him to just four games last season.
Aragaon himself says the label “late bloomer but not of his own doing,” would be an accurate assessment of how the recruiting trail has treated him. School are interested and want to see more, while two have made their offers.
Aragon, 6-5, 200, received his first Division I-FBS offer Monday from Texas State University in San Marcos, where 2012 Yellow Jacket state champion quarterback Tyler Jones started four years during a transition from FCS to FBS. The other offer is from Abilene Christian, which is completing its transition stage from Division II to Division I-FCS and has a new stadium under construction as well as a new head coach who head coach with Division II national championships in his immediate past.
Aragon doesn’t expect those to be his final offers, telling The Flash Today Wednesday evening that he has talked to “eight to 10” Division I suiters including at least one from the heralded Southeastern Conference and at least one from The American Conference. He declined to list interested schools that have not made offers, and 247sports.com currently lists only Texas State and ACU. He has been to camps this summer at Houston, SMU and two at Baylor.
“At the camps I’ve gone against corners who have 3-stars, some even 4-stars and I felt like I did pretty well against that competition. I didn’t feel like any of them could stop me,” Aragon said.
So where are Aragon’s stars?
In his four games of action last season Aragon hauled in 14 receptions for 209 yards – averaging 3.5 caches for 52.3 yards per game. He scored two touchdowns.
“I don’t feel like anybody got to see really what I can do because just playing in four games, I don’t feel like I ever hit my stride,” Aragon said. “I’m confident that I’m at least a 3-star player, I just have to go out and show it for a whole season.”
Even if he doesn’t have Easton Jones, already a two year starter but currently undergoing treatment for a torn ulna collateral ligament (UCL) in his (right) throwing elbow. Tyler Schouten played in his stead at the Division II (1A-4A) 7-on-7 Championships in College Station, and midway through the first day got hot with Aragon, a connection that helped the Yellow Jackets reach the consolation final.
But that was touch football. Aragon is ready to let everyone know he can do when the lights, pads and pressure are all on.
Aragon put on a golden performance – literally – with the pressure on at the UIL Track And Field State Meet. Entering Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin as the 4A favorite with a season-best leap of 6 feet, 10 inches, Aragon stayed clean until the bar went to 6-8. Aragaon touched but avoided dislodging the bart on his second attempt at that height and watched his opponent miss.
Proud of his gold medal and looking forward to defending that title, Aragon still says he is a football player first.
“Plan A for me has always been to get a scholarship to play college football and there has never really been a Plan B. I want to get my education paid for so that’s not a concern for our family,” he said. “I can jump high, and winning state in high jump has helped a good bit in my recruiting. But the focus is on football.”
Combining jumping high and receiving footballs appeared natural to Aragon in College Station, where even double teams could not slow him down. If three guys go high for a pass, the one who went highest – it was Aragon every time in 7-on-7- was the one coming down with the ball.
“I don’t really care about double-teams or anything like that. I just have to do my job, and if I do that and there are two guys when I get there, then throw it up high and let me go up for it,” he said. “I think that’s what recruiters see as my biggest strengths are being able muscle through guys to come away with the ball and also being able to go up top on them, because I’m confident in any matchup that if you put I high, I’m going to win every time.”
Chances are, Aragon won’t see many double teams.
“We have great receivers and great players all over our team. I have faith in myself and I also have faith in every one of them,” he said. “If you double team me, you’ll have Kyle Lindsey hurting you on the opposite side. If you focus too much on us outside, there’s (Kade) Averhoff and Clay (Krause) who will hurt you in the middle. Those are all great receivers, and I don’t think anyone can stop us as a group, no matter who’s playing quarterback.”
Aragon also has identified what he must improve.
“I feel like the biggest thing I need to work on, really, is getting faster. I think my footwork is really good, but could be faster, and I want to get off the ball faster,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been working this summer on my 40 time.”
Aragon doesn’t know yet what all schools will come after him, but he plans to major in business, perhaps with an eventual emphasis on marketing, and he knows what base his decision on.
“The first thing is education. One thing I took away from being injured last year is how short this game lasts. It won’t be with you forever, but your education will be,” he said. “Then I want to really look at the type of role I would be playing there – the type of offense they run and my role in that offense. And last but not least, it has to feel like a place where I will become the best person, the best man, I can be, and leave there ready to be a productive member of society.”
He understands and appreciates that for every student-athlete afforded offers to choose from, there are hundreds who would kill for any athletic offer at all.
“All Glory to God because it’s a blessing for sure,” the receiver said. “All to Him and then next to my family because I could never do any of this without them, especially my mom. My father and stepfather have also been there for me, supporting me ever since I was just a young kid.
“Next, I have to thank (head coach Greg) Winder and Coach (Jeremiah) Butchee (receivers). Coach Winder has been very involved in the process, and I know he’s always going to tell me the truth and what I need to know that college coaches are saying. Coach Butchee, he’s a great position coach for all of us and really understands the finer points of being a receiver.”
College choices and being thankful for them aren’t quite the elephant in the room yet. National signing day is still six months away, but preseason practices for the prospect’s senior season begin Monday.
“I’m so excited about this team and where I think we can go. People may not have realized how super young we were last year,” he said. “After experiencing that season and learning from it (the Jackets were 3-8 in 2016, failing to win a playoff game for the first time since a 2004), I feel like now we have great leaders and impact players – Easton Jones even though he’s hurt is still a great leader, Zane Walker, Blu Caylor, Kyle Lindsey, Jacob Poston for sure, and of course, Tyler Schouten.
“We have lots of great players on this team, and I believe in all of them and in our coaches and I think we will have a great season.”
One that should end with a lot more than just two offers for the Jackets’ star receiver.
“Honestly I feel like I’m no worse than a 3-star, and I don’t mean that to boast, I know why I don’t have that rating after last year, but I believe in myself and I’m confident that I can be one of the best receivers in the state.”