According to Bamberg-Ehrhardt (S.C.) junior strongside defensive end Martin Aiken, he wasn't all that good when he first joined the school's football program as a ninth-grader.
"To tell you the truth, I pretty much had to learn how to get in a three-point stance that looked right," Aiken recalled to Rivals.com. "I could get in one, but it was ugly."
Today, Aiken is a starter - and a star.
"I listened to what the coaches told me," he said. "I did everything they asked me to do. I worked real hard to get better. Everything I did, I competed at and it paid off."
Thus far, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Aiken has several offers. On Wednesday, Michigan State became the latest to pull the trigger, joining Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas Tech, USC , Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Additionally, Florida is showing serious interest and Aiken predicts an offer could come after the Gators check him out at practice this spring.
"It's kind of surprised me," Aiken said. "I didn't think it would be like this. I never thought I'd even become an average player. Right now, I'm still open. But I can give you a few that I kind of like based off what I've heard and seen. Georgia Tech, Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Michigan [are standing out]."
Why those schools?
"What I like about all of them is the hard-work mentality," Aiken said. "Every player you ever hear from there, the first thing out of their mouth is how hard they worked to get better. And they're also pretty good schools academically."
Aiken already has visited South Carolina and Tennessee this year. Next up will likely be a trip to Clemson, followed by visits to Auburn, Illinois and Virginia Tech sometime in the next few months. By summer's end, Aiken hopes to have trimmed his list of contenders.
How will he determine who makes the cut?
"It'll pretty much be by the way I feel when I'm there," Aiken said. "Whether I feel at home, whether I like the area and if I'm comfortable with the academic standards. Then I'll look at the football program and make sure it's a program I want to be a part of."