By Michael Ney, Sports Editor
Great athletes are viewed as gods among men. Fans, young and old, routinely set aside time in their day to watch their idols take the field or court.
All athletes, however, no matter how great, must start their careers somewhere. Acalanes senior left tackle and Division One Oregon football recruit, Brady Aiello, looks to make a name for himself next year when he takes the field wearing the vibrant green Ducks uniform.
Aiello will be the first player from Acalanes since 1992 to attend a Division I school on a football scholarship. In the past few years, Acalanes graduates Dan Camporeale and Gabe Newman have attended Division I schools for football, but as a walk-on and after going to Diablo Valley College (DVC) first.
Aside from his 6’ 6.5” 260 pound frame, stellar football skills, and 4.8 40 yard dash, Aiello is just another student at Acalanes. Following his busy, six period schedule, Brady spends eleven and a half hours during the week at football practice.
“He’s become a pretty dominant run blocker. He’s also improved in his pass protection,” said Head Coach Mike Ivankovich. “He’s a force on the left side. He is playing with a high intensity and he’s had a great start to the season.”
As football is the only sport he plays, Aiello had to keep busy during the offseason. Fortunately, the Acalanes Football program is an 11 month ordeal. The season ends in November and starts up again with lifting and conditioning in January, giving the players a much needed break in December.
After putting in the hard work; lifting, training, and practicing from the middle of the brisk winter through the end of the scalding summer, Aiello takes the stage under the Friday night lights clad in blue and white as a co-captain of the Dons.
“During the games when I’m on the field, I am extremely focused on what my objective is for every play,” said Aiello. “Doing your job on one play is key, but moving on and fulfilling the very next one is crucial.”
From third grade to eighth, Aiello was an avid participant in the Moraga Orinda Lafayette (MOL) Flag Football league. Playing at Acalanes as a freshman was his first experience in tackle football.
Football has always been Aiello’s main sport. However, Aiello decided to take a break from football in sophomore year and didn’t play that season. But as a junior, he was convinced to come back and rejoin the team and sport he loves.
“My favorite thing is how close you get with other guys,” said Aiello. “I like Coach Ivankovich and the whole coaching staff. It’s kind of like a whole family.”
Aiello accounts much of his success towards Ivankovich, who is the head coach as well as the offensive line coach. Encouraged by Ivankovich, Aiello began attending football camps at the end of his junior year.
According to Aiello, going up against other dominant players, as well as being seen by many college coaches, motivated him to become a better player.
Aiello has worked on his “Strength and then flexibility and then technique,” Ivankovich said. “He’s done what we’ve required him to do, and he’s done hundreds of hours of extra work. So he’s got the full package.”
After the summer camps, Aiello, Ivankovich, and Aiello’s parents met in February of his junior year twice to discuss the possibilities of playing Division I college football after his senior year.
According to Aiello, the recruiting process didn’t last that long. He would communicate with coaches and some would come out to Acalanes to watch Aiello practice and play, impressed by his speed and skill in regard to his weight and size.
After being scouted by numerous college coaches, Aiello received offers from Washington State University, University of Nevada Reno, and University of California Davis. But Aiello wasn’t satisfied.
After talking with the University of Oregon, Aiello attended the Ducks’ three day camp in Eugene. After exhibiting his potential, he walked away with an offer for a full ride scholarship and a commitment to play football.
“The process was pretty stressful because I felt like I always had to be the best. I felt like I had to impress the coaches and at times it got pretty difficult,” said Aiello. “Having it all over when I committed to Oregon was super nice because it took the whole entire thing off my shoulders. I didn’t have to worry about other schools, other coaches, or playing my season with a risk of injury.”
Aiello decided to sign with Oregon for many reasons outside of the fact that in recent years the Ducks have always been in top half of the NCAA Football Top 25 rankings. As of September 27, Oregon was ranked second in the nation by the AP Top 25 Poll.
“When I was up [in Eugene] I got a tour of the campus and checked out the academics and all the support and tutors you get. There’s a whole academic center for athletics. It’s really awesome, all the support you get,” said Aiello. “I didn’t pick it just on the football side.”
Aiello shouldn’t have many issues settling into the college life next year with many new faces.
“He is a really special person who is respectful, caring, and passionate. He has such a great personality that is known in whatever room he is present in. He always makes other people happy,” said senior Jewels Biro. “Off the field Brady is a gentle giant who cares for others and puts other people first.”
One thing is for certain: Aiello is going in the right direction to succeed in the future and he is ready to create lasting friendships.
“I don’t know what to expect, but I’m just going to go into it. I’m probably going to be really excited,” said Aiello. “I’m looking forward to meeting all the new guys and coaches as well as building relationships that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”