Fly like an Eagle

— Doubters said Aaron Wilmer could no longer play quar­ter­back after a stor­ied ca­reer at George Wash­ing­ton. They were wrong.

Former Wash­ing­ton High School Quar­ter­back Aaron Wilmer, at his Alma Ma­ter meet­ing with his High School coach Ron Co­hen.


Every Feb­ru­ary, the Na­tion­al Foot­ball League holds its an­nu­al Scout­ing Com­bine in In­di­ana­pol­is, where team of­fi­cials gauge the na­tion’s top col­lege foot­ball tal­ent.  Coaches, gen­er­al man­agers, and scouts eval­u­ate each ath­lete’s “meas­ur­ables,” namely his height, weight and 40-yard-dash time.

Po­ten­tial draftees of­ten see their stock rise or fall based on those three im­port­ant num­bers. While tal­ent eval­u­at­ors also es­pouse the im­port­ance of game film and All-Star per­form­ances, the meas­ur­ables gen­er­ally lay a found­a­tion for wheth­er a play­er has the phys­ic­al tools to per­form at the next level. 

So while “workout war­ri­ors” quickly tend to climb a team’s draft board, oth­er more pro­duct­ive play­ers who don’t pos­sess the ideal pro­to­type for their po­s­i­tions are left in per­il, hop­ing for a try­out to show­case their tal­ent. 

In 2009, George Wash­ing­ton High School quar­ter­back Aaron Wilmer led his school’s stor­ied foot­ball pro­gram to its third con­sec­ut­ive Pub­lic League Cham­pi­on­ship while earn­ing First Team All-City hon­ors.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Wilmer was named First Team All-Pub­lic and Hon­or­able Men­tion All-State at quar­ter­back, des­pite meas­ur­ing just 5 feet 10 and weigh­ing 195 pounds, hardly ideal meas­ur­ables for a field gen­er­al in a day and age when sig­nal callers tend to tower well above six feet.

In four years as a mem­ber of the foot­ball pro­gram, Wilmer’s Eagles com­piled a 38-11 over­all re­cord. He fin­ished his ca­reer with 2,457 passing yards, 541 rush­ing yards and 56 total touch­downs (13 rush­ing). At the time, Wilmer fin­ished his ca­reer with Pub­lic League re­cords of 43 passing touch­downs and 21 single-sea­son touch­down passes, the lat­ter of which was broken last sea­son by Frank­ford quar­ter­back Tim Di­Gior­gio’s 30 passing strikes.

Wilmer’s ath­let­ic ac­com­plish­ments earned him Di­vi­sion I foot­ball at­ten­tion; however, most re­cruit­ers’ in­terest centered on a po­s­i­tion change. 

“Most of the D-1 schools were straight up with me and wanted me as an ath­lete,” Wilmer said dur­ing a re­cent chat at his high school alma ma­ter. “It’s not like they were at­tempt­ing to mis­lead me. You could tell from the second that the coaches saw me up close that they were meas­ur­ing me up.”

Wilmer let it be known from the start that he was go­ing to play quar­ter­back in col­lege. 

“There was no doubt in my mind that I could play that po­s­i­tion and have suc­cess in col­lege,” Wilmer said. “I just needed to find a good fit for my tal­ents.” 

Wilmer thought that he had found that fit at West Chester Uni­versity. It wasn’t the Di­vi­sion I pro­gram that he had en­vi­sioned, but he was happy to be giv­en a chance to show­case his abil­ity at quar­ter­back.

“I had a great con­nec­tion with (West Chester) Coach (Bill) Zwaan,” Wilmer said. “He taught me a lot of­fens­ively. I just had a dif­fer­ent timeline than the coaches had in mind for me. I have no re­grets of my time spent at West Chester.”  

Wilmer found him­self out on the re­cruit­ing trail once again after the 2010 sea­son, with his par­ents, Thomas and Tissa, as­sist­ing him every step of the way.

To­geth­er they laid out the op­tions.  Delaware Val­ley Col­lege, loc­ated in nearby Doylestown, had shown in­terest in Wilmer since his ju­ni­or cam­paign at George Wash­ing­ton. 

“I looked in­to Del Val and saw that they were a na­tion­al cham­pi­on­ship con­tender every year,” he said. “It was close to home and they had shown in­terest in me for awhile. I was con­fid­ent that I could step right in and con­trib­ute.” 

It didn’t hurt that Wilmer hit it off right away with Ag­gies’ head coach Jim Cle­m­ents. 

“Coach Cle­m­ents gave me the op­por­tun­ity I was look­ing for,” Wilmer said. “The of­fense fit my tal­ents.” 

Cle­m­ents felt the con­nec­tion, too.

“Aaron is the pro­to­typ­ic­al hard work­er,” he said. “He watches film and is routinely the last to leave the prac­tice field.” 

After Wilmer was named the starter for the first week, Cle­m­ents’ de­cision im­me­di­ately paid di­vidends. Wilmer was able to quickly pick up the of­fens­ive scheme and led the Ag­gies to a per­fect 10-0 reg­u­lar sea­son mark and a play­off ap­pear­ance. The team fin­ished with an over­all re­cord of 11-1, and went two rounds in­to the Di­vi­sion III play­offs. 

For the sea­son, Wilmer con­nec­ted on 189 of 319 at­tempts for 2,729 yards and 23 touch­downs. He also rushed for 320 yards and six scores. To cap off an im­press­ive rook­ie cam­paign, Wilmer was named the Rook­ie of the Year in both the East­ern Col­lege Ath­let­ic Con­fer­ence (ECAC) and the Middle At­lantic Con­fer­ence (MAC).

Not one to rest on his laurels, Wilmer is look­ing to im­prove on his ini­tial col­legi­ate suc­cess.  As far as his short-term goals are con­cerned, Wilmer ad­mit­ted, “I want to win the (Di­vi­sion III) Na­tion­al Cham­pi­on­ship. That’s al­ways go­ing to be my num­ber one goal. In­di­vidu­ally, I want to take on more of a lead­er­ship role.”

Wilmer is ac­cus­tomed to win­ning. A North­east Phil­adelphia nat­ive, he first tasted ath­let­ic suc­cess at Baldi Middle School on Ver­ree Road.

He took home the Male Ath­lete of the Year award in eighth grade, and suc­cess fol­lowed after he en­rolled at George Wash­ing­ton. Not only was he a tre­mend­ously ac­com­plished foot­ball play­er, but Wilmer also took home First Team All-Pub­lic hon­ors in base­ball after his seni­or cam­paign.

The ac­com­plished, do-it-all Wilmer comes from a fam­ily of ath­let­ic tal­ent. His older  broth­ers, Thomas and Dami­en, were both great ath­letes in their own right while at Wash­ing­ton and went on to at­tend Millers­ville and Temple Uni­versity, re­spect­ively. Thomas was a First Team All-City de­fens­ive back in 2005, while Dami­en earned Third Team hon­ors at wide re­ceiv­er in 2007.

Aaron cred­its his broth­ers with help­ing him be­come the play­er that he is today. In ad­di­tion to reg­u­lar off-sea­son workouts, he keeps his arm con­di­tioned by throw­ing to them three times a week.

Des­pite his com­mend­able ath­let­ic ac­com­plish­ments, Wilmer has re­mained groun­ded and true to his roots at George Wash­ing­ton.

“I talk on the phone with Coach Mac (Of­fens­ive Coach John McAneney) at least once a week,” Wilmer said. “He is like a second fath­er to me.” 

Le­gendary Wash­ing­ton head foot­ball coach Ron Co­hen is an­oth­er per­son who Wilmer holds in high re­gard. After speak­ing briefly with Co­hen, it is quickly evid­ent that the sen­ti­ment is re­cip­roc­ated.

“I’m very happy for Aaron,” Co­hen said.  “He stuck to his guns and has made a name for him­self as a quar­ter­back. The whole George Wash­ing­ton fam­ily is proud.”

Wilmer has a lot of foot­ball yet to play.  Com­ing in­to his sopho­more sea­son a Del Val, he hopes to con­tin­ue to build on his rook­ie sea­son suc­cess. The sports man­age­ment ma­jor wants to keep prov­ing the naysay­ers wrong. He un­der­stands bet­ter than most that it’s not the meas­ur­ables that define a good foot­ball play­er; rather, Wilmer wants scouts to meas­ure his abil­ity and pro­duc­tion. 

“I still have a lot left to prove,” he said.

Wilmer dreams of be­ing giv­en an op­por­tun­ity at the NFL level some day. 

“I would love a try­out in the NFL,” he said. “If that didn’t work out, I would look in­to the Ca­na­dian Foot­ball League.”

Wilmer has made the most of his own meas­ur­ables. While he does not pos­sess the size that scouts cov­et, he does pos­sess many of the in­tan­gibles re­quired for suc­cess.

In the end, Wilmer showed that a proven win­ner who simply re­fuses to be over­looked can­not be held down. ••


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