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Aikens Selected by Miami Dolphins in Fourth Round
Former Flames standout cornerback Walt Aikens became the seventh player in program history to be selected in the NFL Draft when the Miami Dolphins picked him in the fourth round earlier on Saturday.
Aikens was the 125th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and is the first Flame selected in the draft since Rashad Jennings was taken in the seventh round in 2009.
Aikens ties Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame selection Kelvin Edwards as the program's second fourth round pick in an NFL Draft. Edwards was taken in the fourth round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints and picked three seasons in the NFL (New Orleans – 1986; Dallas Cowboys – 1987-88).
The Flames top NFL Draft pick was Eric Green, who was selected in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1990. Liberty's other previous NFL Draft picks include Fred Banks (1985/Round 8/Cleveland Browns), Edwards (1986/Round 4/New Orleans Saints), Richard Shelton (1989/Round 10/Denver Broncos), Donald Smith (1990/Round 10/Minnesota Vikings) and Jennings (2009/Round 7/Jacksonville Jaguars).
"I am thrilled for Walt being selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins," said Liberty Head Football Coach Turner Gill. "People can see his athleticism, but he also has the intangibles that coaches look for in their athletes. He is a fierce competitor, a hard worker and is passionate about the game of football."
Aikens was the fourth player selected in this year's NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, following Ja'Wuan James (OT/Round 1/Tennessee), Jarvis Landry (WR/Round 2/LSU) and Billy Turner (OT/Round 3/North Dakota State).
Aikens is a three-time Big South all-conference honoree, taking first-team honors in 2013 and second-team accolades in 2011 and 2012.
Aikens tied for the team lead in 2013 for the Flames with 62 tackles. He led the Flames and ranked third in the Big South with 50 solo tackles. He helped Liberty rank No. 5 in the country in interceptions (19), individually recording three interceptions to give him seven for his career.
Aikens' draft stock rose after his collegiate career was finished, as he showcased his athletics talents at two collegiate bowl game workouts.
After finishing up the best year of his Liberty career, Aikens was able to participate in the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston, S.C., and the 65th annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
The native of Charlotte, N.C., gives Liberty three former standout alums of the program on current NFL franchise rosters.
Jennings, who was previously mentioned as a 2009 NFL Draft pick, signed as a free agent during the offseason with the New York Giants. Last year, Jennings led the Oakland Raiders as he finished the year rushing for 733 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 36 receptions for 292 yards and recorded two blocked punts.
Following the season, Jennings was named Raiders.com Co-Offensive Player of the Year, sharing the honor with wide receiver Rod Streater.
After finishing up his playing career at Liberty in 2011, Mike Brown signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brown, who was a standout quarterback for the Flames, just finished his second season with the Jaguars in 2013 and had a career year with 32 receptions, 446 receiving yards and two touchdowns as a wide receiver.