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 on May 10.
The 6-foot 1-inch, 205-pound Charlotte, N.C., native was the 125th overall pick and is the first Flame to be drafted since 2009, when running back Rashad Jennings was selected in the seventh round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I am thrilled for Walt,” Liberty Head Football Coach Turner Gill said. “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 had the best season of his Liberty career this past fall, tying for the team lead with 62 tackles and ranking third in the Big South Conference with 50 solo tackles. He also snared three interceptions to bring his career total to seven and help the Flames rank fifth in the country with 19.
He participated in the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston, S.C., and the 65th annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., showcasing his talents and elevating his draft stock.
“Everything worked itself out and I’m blessed, I’m very happy right now,” Aikens told the Miami Dolphins. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m coming down ready to play right away. I plan on coming in and learning everything the coaches have to offer.”
Aikens is Liberty’s second fourth-round NFL Draft pick, joining Flames Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Kelvin Edwards, who was selected by the New Orleans Saints in 1986.
Liberty’s top NFL Draft pick was Eric Green, who was selected in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1990. Other previous picks include Fred Banks (1985, eighth round, Cleveland Browns), Richard Shelton (1989, 10th round, Denver Broncos), and Donald Smith (1990, 10th round, Minnesota Vikings).
Aikens becomes the third former Flames Football player currently in the NFL. He joins Jennings, who signed with the New York Giants this spring after being named co-Offensive Player of the Year for the Oakland Raiders last fall, and Mike Brown, a three-year starter at quarterback at Liberty entering his third season as an undrafted wide receiver for the Jaguars.