Sophomore receiver's first love is basketball, but he made "business decision" to focus on football
Devin Aguilar admits, his heart beats basketball.
All things being equal, if he had a free day and a choice of a sport to play, he’d pick up a ball and start shooting hoops.
“It’s my favorite,” says the Washington sophomore receiver.
And for a while, he also thought it might be his future. He was an all-state point guard at Mullen High School in Denver, leading his team to the state title as a senior, fashioning his play after Steve Nash. “Because I like to pass and all that, but I could score when I want to,” he said. “But I love to get my teammates involved, too.”
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“He was tough, scrappy,” said Seattle University basketball coach Cameron Dollar, who saw Aguilar play in high school. “I love that kid.”
Tough enough, he drew reported offers in basketball from Iowa State, Wichita State and Utah.
But his list of football offers, after he was an also all-state pick as a receiver, was a little lengthier — including Washington, Colorado, Arizona State and Kansas State.
A few schools, such as Washington, offered to let him do both — be a scholarship football player and a walk-on basketball player.
But Aguilar got the sense that whichever sport he accepted a scholarship in was the one where his future would ultimately rest.
“It was a long, long, long process [deciding which sport to pursue],” he said. “I didn’t know for a long time what I wanted to do.”
Eventually, he looked at the cold, hard facts — the football scholarship offers seemed to indicate that those who know figured he had a better future in that sport.
And finally, he made what he says plainly “was a business decision. I figured this would be the best outcome for me.” One, he hopes, that may someday earn him some money.
Hard to argue his choice after what Huskies fans have seen the past two games. After missing two games with a knee injury, he caught 10 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns in the past two.
Aguilar made seven catches for 154 yards, each career highs, Saturday at Arizona State. That was the most receiving yards for a UW receiver since Marcel Reece had 166 against Arizona in 2007. One catch came on a leaping, one-hander that showed that his passion hasn’t waned on the football field.
“Jeez, two weeks in a row he has played fantastic,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian. “I thought he made some spectacular plays for us down the field. … He’s got a great feel for the game. There are a lot of things that he does innately on the field that can really excite you.”
Says offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier: “Devin is really starting to grow into the offense. Just as with quarterbacks at times, it’s just about feeling comfortable. People I think don’t realize at times how fractions of a second and inches are such a big part of this game when you talk about the rhythm of the passing game.”
Nussmeier says Aguilar’s basketball skills are evident at times on the football field.
“You watch some of the catches he made the other night, his ability to catch the ball outside his frame — that’s what you get sometimes from basketball players, is the ability to catch balls outside the frame, to go up and get a ball because they are used to rebounding and tracking a moving ball,” Nussmeier said.
While comfort on the field might finally be coming, comfort in Seattle has never been an issue.
While he grew up in Denver and was recruited by both Colorado and Colorado State, Aguilar never really considered either school, saying, “I just wanted to get away.”
Once he did, there was no real question where he’d go. Aguilar had spent lots of time in the Seattle area while in high school, visiting relatives who had relocated to the Auburn area. Those relatives included an uncle, Kevin Turner, who is something of a father figure to Aguilar, raised by a single mom.
Aguilar also liked the fact that UW’s football coaches held open the idea that he could walk on to the basketball team if he wanted.
Aguilar, who wasn’t eligible for the 2007 football season while sorting out a test-score issue, thought about it after last season and was encouraged by UW’s hoops coaches, who thought Aguilar could have legitimately helped the team.
“He would have been a walk-on at first, but eventually he would have seen action,” says Dollar, who was an assistant at UW before taking the Seattle U. job.
But Aguilar said he came to another basketball crossroad after last season.
“It’s always a thought of mine [to walk on],” says Aguilar, who counts UW point guard Isaiah Thomas among his good friends. “But I decided that I had to focus on the reason I’m here.”
So for now, the sneakers are in the closet, Aguilar keeping his eyes on the prize.
“I say that all the time like, ‘Man, I could play with these guys,’ ” Aguilar says of the basketball team. “But I have to have my mind on this page first.”
• WR Anthony Boyles and RB Curtis Shaw each sat out practice Tuesday due to illness.