By Ashley Denny.
BAMBERG, SC- When you look at strong side defensive end Martin Aiken’s stats from his junior season, 106 tackles, 36 for a loss and 13 sacks, he seems very similar to Clemson’s own Da’Quan Bowers. Although Aiken’s coach, who also coached Bowers during his career at Bamberg, believes that Aiken and Bowers are similar in some ways, he believes that Aiken has a completely different style of play and can do some things now that Bowers could not at this point in his football career.
TCI had a chance to sit down with the four star, highly recruited Aiken and his coach Kevin Crosby and spoke with them both about how Aiken’s recruiting process has gone so far, where Clemson stands with Aiken, and if he sees himself fitting into Clemson’s 3-4 defense if he did decide be become a Tiger.
Aiken, who now has around 30 offers, was on hand at Clemson’s Spring game of April 9th, how did he enjoy the experience?
“It was a pretty exciting visit,” Aiken said. “I hadn’t been to Clemson in a while, since the first game of the season. I took a tour of the campus, and Coach Swinney took me, my mom, and my sister into his office and spoke with us one on one about what Clemson was offering me, and what an asset I would be to the program if I chose Clemson.”
What did Coach Swinney say to Aiken during his one on one?
“He basically told me that if I chose Clemson then he would make sure that I wouldn’t fall through the cracks,” Aiken said. “He told me that he would make sure that I stayed on top of my grades and would check into that at least twice a week.”
What does Aiken look for when he’s on unofficial?
“Besides academics, which are very important to me, I want to go into a program which is more like a family than a team,” Aiken said. “That’s what I’m used to here; I want to go somewhere where everyone bonds like a family, because when you’re on the field, the guy next to you is your brother.”
Aiken who hopes to make his final decision in either June or July, so that he can focus on his last year has looked to his coach who has been through the recruiting process several times before for advice.
“My coach just tells me to go wherever I feel comfortable,” Aiken said. “He said don’t let no one else make my decision for me because I’m the one that’s going to go to school there.”
Bamberg’s Head Coach Kevin Crosby, who has accompanied Aiken on several of his unofficial visits so far this spring, knew that Aiken was a special player as early as his sophomore year.
“Martin was a different type of player when he came into the program,” Coach Crosby said. “Martin came in, a lot of people didn’t realize that he didn’t know how to get into a stance when he came to us at the end of 8th grade. The kid has worked so hard, always trying to get better, but at the beginning of his 10th grade year he had a chance to do good things because he started working hard, and then Da’Quan came home in the summer and got his hands on him. And then last year he put up some numbers that were just unbelievable, there were just times that he was in the backfield making plays that most people couldn’t make.”
What’s this highly recruited prospect like on the field?
“On the field, Martin’s an outstanding player,” Coach Crosby said. “He plays the game real violent; he’s kind of a field general when he’s out on the field. He models himself after Ricky Sapp and Da’Quan Bowers who have kind of set the tone for him. He’s a vocal leader on the field and also leads by example. I think that it was our defensive front that got us to the State Championship.”
What does Coach Crosby think of Clemson’s defense? And does he see Aiken fitting into Coach Steele’s scheme if he chooses Clemson?
“It’s a great fit for Martin,” Crosby said. “It’s the same scheme that we run the 3-4, nickel package. It’s a great fit because he can play the 5; he can come off the end and rush. He’s not Da’Quan, and Da’Quan’s not Martin. He can do some things that Da’Quan couldn’t at this point, and Da’Quan had things that Martin can’t do. But Martin can hold his own, he’s one of the best coming through here right now.”