Aaron Karlen has always been a top athlete, and a stand out when it came to football. The Edgar native was a wrestler and played linebacker in high school. He then went on to play football at UW-Stevens Point where he was moved to defensive end, "He just wanted to attack all the time. As a linebacker he wanted to blitz every play or every other play, well of course they couldn't have him do that so they moved him to defensive end so they could just let him go every play," says Karlen's Edgar High School Coach, Jerry Sinz.
Karlen, will once again get the opportunity to play as a linebacker. On Saturday, after the NFL draft had completed, and the undrafted free agents had been called, Karlen's name had not been called, and he became disheartened. "I called my agent and said, 'So, what's next?' he said, 'hold tight.'" That's when Karlen answered his cell phone, the Seahawks on the other end.
Aaron Karlen was asked to join other rookie free agents at the Seattle Seahawks' Rookie Tryout Camp May 6th-8th, as a linebacker.
"I was always a defensive lineman, I mean, I know what coverages are, but I wasn't really paying attention to that stuff too much when I was at Point, so now I'm really going to have to lock it in to the coverages that I'll have to know because I'll be playing linebacker. My coaches are going to be playing a vital role here, I'm going to sit down with them this week before I leave and get that stuff knocked out, and my buddies that played the position are helping me, working with me on my stance and how to drop and stuff like that."
Karlen admits that he feels a bit overwhelmed, his final semester at Stevens Point wrapping up, leaving him with exams to study for as well, but this is an opportunity that simply can't be passed up. Karlen will be looking for the chance to sign a free agent contract at the end of Mini Camp, a difficult feat as he goes up against nearly thirty others, not including draft picks, vying for a roster spot. Sinz says of the chance, "Every day counts. Every play counts. If he makes one great play that stands out, that could buy him another day, and so on. You can't have a bad day."
Karlen wholeheartedly plans to make his hometown proud while he's at camp, "I've worked so hard, I've sacrificed so much, I would just like to see it all pay off. To represent Edgar, to represent Stevens Point, to represent my teammates and friends."
In the sacrifices and hard work, he's developed a bit of a chip on his shoulder, "Coaches always talk about these big school guys, and as you saw in the draft the majority of the guys were taken from Division I schools, and I just feel like, these other guys can play too, they just need the exposure, you know, guys like me... I'm just excited to go against these guys and show them what I have, to show them that school size doesn't mean anything."
Now, Karlen is a Packers fan, but says if he gets the opportunity to play against the Packers one day, he's not going to take it easy on them just because they're his favorite team.