It has always been Aaron Cowee’s dream to play Division I football, and now he has a chance to not only do that, but to do it in his backyard.
Cowee, Carson High’s 260-pound offensive tackle, will attend the University of Nevada as a preferred walk-on this summer. Because he is still a recruitable athlete, the University of Nevada coaching staff isn’t allowed to make any comments on Cowee per NCAA rules.
“I had some interest from junior colleges, D-IIs and D-IIIs, but I was just not interested in that,” Cowee said Wednesday afternoon. “I feel I can play Division I football, and that’s what I want to do. I’m excited. I’m blessed with the opportunity to play, or have a chance to play at this level. Many people don’t have the same opportunity that I do.”
Cowee said that Arizona showed some interest, but like Nevada, offered just preferred walk-on status. He admitted that geography played a role in his final decision.
“It’s much easier for my parents,” Cowee said. “They are just a short drive away instead of a plane ride away, and they only have to fly to away games not every game.”
Blair Roman, who brought Cowee up to the varsity team as a sophomore, was pleased with the decision.
“It seemed like that was one of his goals,” Roman said. “If he had the opportunity to be offered a scholarship or walk-on opportunity at a Division I school that’s what he was going to do. His goal was to play at the highest level possible. He seemed to develop a good rapport with the coaching staff during the entire process. He feels there is a lot of opportunity with a new coaching staff. I like the way this Nevada staff is handling walk-on recruiting
“Whether he got a scholarship or walked on, he would redshirt that first year. He’ll have chance to show the coaching staff he is a scholarship-caliber player.”
Nevada brought in five offensive linemen — JC transfers Humberto Lopez from College of the Desert and true freshmen Chad Specht of Clovis West, Moapa Valley’s Mat McDermand and Antelope Valley’s Daren Echeveria. Brian Polian, Nevada’s second-year head coach, brought in seven defensive linemen, including freshman Patrick Choudja, Kalei Meyer, Korey Rush, Jordan Silva, Malik Reed and Hug’s Cliff Porter plus JC transfer Jeremy Miller.
Cowee is quick to point out that, while most freshmen redshirt, Polian played several true freshmen a year ago.
“Twelve true freshmen played last year,” Cowee said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. They are going to play the best guys, and I want to be one of the best players.”
Cowee said he talked to ex-Reed star Jeremy Macauley, who earned a starting spot as a redshirt freshman. Cowee said Macauley was a walk-on.
“I feel I can earn a spot there (at Nevada),” Cowee said.
At 6-3 1/2, Cowee is considered too short to be a Division I tackle, which was his best position in high school. He will either be shifted inside to guard or center, or possibly moved over to the defensive side of the ball.
“They are going to put me where they think I can play,” Cowee said. “At UNR they use more zone blocking techniques.”
Roman doesn’t feel moving back inside where he played as a sophomore and junior will be a big deal.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Roman said. “If he ends up on the offensive line, I’m sure he will bulk up to have weight behind him. He did a good job to get himself in shape (after his sophomore year). If he plays defense, I think they will definitely keep him trim; closer to his current weight. As a center, he’s got a great football IQ. He is a dominant 1-on-1 blocker. If he moves to guard, they will likely bulk him up. It depends on where they see him fitting.
“Initially when they recruited him, Nevada thought he had more of a defensive lineman body type. They liked him last spring (on film) there. Unfortunately after his (ankle) injury, he didn’t play a lot of defense. He has the tools to play on the defensive line.”
For now, Cowee has been working on his speed and agility under the watchful eye of CHS assistant coach Jim deArrieta. He has also been lifting weights.
“I’ve been working on everything,” Cowee said. “I go to the gym everyday. College is when you get more strength. I think I can get up to 280 (and still maintain speed and agility).”