By Andrew Porter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — April 8th, 2015.
Aaron Wilmer found himself on the gridiron of the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia receiving praise from Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
He wasn’t dreaming.
“I’m excited man,” Wilmer told Andrew Porter, Thursday on CBSPhilly.com’s Pulse Of Philly podcast. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to even be in the same breath as some of these other guys being looked at by the Eagles. So, it’s definitely exciting just can’t wait for the next opportunity.”
Listen: Aaron Wilmer on Andrew Porter’s Pulse Of Philly Podcast (22:22 mark)
Wilmer grew up in Northeast Philadelphia (Somerton area) into a football household, the youngest of three boys to Tissa and Thomas Wilmer. Aaron’s oldest brother Thomas Jr., 27, played football at Millersville University. The middle sibling Damien, 24, played at Albright College. All three brothers played at George Washington High School, helping the school to an insane five Public League football titles in eight years (2004-2011).
Aaron is the best athlete of the bunch, his entire family will tell you, including his year-and-a-half old daughter Giovana.
A high-school star on the baseball diamond as just a 10th-grader, “A-dot” was known for his signature helmet flip triples, jaw-dropping laser-beams from the outfield, and his famous, “Who’s hot, who’s not? Hot coffee!” line.
However, the 5-foot, 10-inch Wilmer shone brightest in football, the game he loves most, playing the most scrutinized position in sports—quarterback. There were plenty of doubters (myself included at times) due to his size, but Wilmer proved them wrong.
Now, Washington’s all-time leading passer (2,457 yards), continues to prove them wrong.
“When I was there [at George Washington] in high-school people always said you’re too short, you’re too short. And then finally I got to college [at Delaware Valley] and had an awesome college career. If I just had the opportunity to make it onto an NFL team that would just be, it would just mean so much to me. So much to me and my family and all the people that are rooting for me.”
Last year, in his final season as quarterback at Delaware Valley University, Wilmer threw for 3,228 yards and 30 touchdowns leading the Aggies to a 9-2 record and an at-large berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs. His 2014 season capped a marvelous collegiate career, as Wilmer racked up 10,157 passing yards and 1,638 more on the ground becoming just one of 26 QB’s (at any NCAA level) to reach the 10,000-1,000 passing-rushing career yardage plateaus.
On Wednesday, Wilmer received the satisfying opportunity to work out for his hometown NFL team.
In attendance was Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, QB coach Ryan Day, and some front-office members.
“Well the workout was basically just all positional drills,” the 22-year-old Wilmer said. “They did height, weight, but after that it was really all positional drills. We just did routes on air and according to what the scouts there said and some of the coaches they said I did really, really well.
“[Chip Kelly] was really just watching the whole work out, then once we got into the routes on air, he was giving me praise on some of the routes that I was throwing and some of the balls that I was completing. It was good to see Chip Kelly kind of give me some recognition and also it was just gratifying to have an NFL head coach there watching you workout, and actually giving your praise.”
The most comparable NFL player to Wilmer is Russell Wilson. Both are undersized, dual-threat, high-character, strong-armed, intelligent, motivated, and commanding quarterbacks. However, one is three-feet short of being a back-to-back Super Bowl Champion, while the other is hoping to simply make a roster.
“That’d be the obvious comparison, but let’s not compare me to a Super Bowl winning quarterback just yet,” Wilmer said, humbly. “I’ve got to get a contract first.”
Nevertheless, most would agree—at the very least—Wilmer’s attributes combined with his character, seems to make sense for Kelly’s system.
“Well in terms of [Kelly’s] offense, it’s just your basic spread offense,” Wilmer said. “Obviously they got the up-tempo stuff, so things are simplified as far as quarterback standpoint. That’s why it’s so much—people always say it’s a quarterback friendly offense because the quarterback really doesn’t have to do too much in terms of thinking wise. It’s really just you read and react.
“But I would definitely be a good fit for Chip Kelly’s offense, one hundred percent.”
Despite all of that, at his size, Wilmer knows he has his work cut out for him. Wilmer’s agent has already told him not to expect to be a late-round draft pick. Rather, joining a team as an undrafted free-agent is more of a realistic possibility.
Just add it to the Wilmer motivational bulletin board.
“Obviously it’s an uphill battle for me because I’ve got so many people concerned about my height,” Wilmer admitted. “Pat Shurmur said my talent is up there with anybody that he’s evaluated this year. So, I’m not too concerned about talent, it’s really just getting people to overlook my size and give me an opportunity just based on talent.”
No, Aaron Wilmer certainly wasn’t dreaming when he worked out for the Birds. The day after? Well that’s a different story.
“Oh my God,” Wilmer said, when asked what it would be like to become a Philadelphia Eagle one day. “Dude, it would be so gratifying. It would just prove all those people wrong that—I mean, you were there too [in high-school].
“I mean who wouldn’t want to play for the Birds, being from Philly? So that would be the obvious number one choice.”