BLOOMINGTON – It was a nasty name, his coach mentioned.
This was throughout an Alexander Excessive Faculty (Ga.) Soccer recreation. Aaron Casey was in an unlucky scenario. At one level, the opposing group’s quarterback had his shoestring caught on Aaron’s foot di lui. Aaron went to shake it off.
However one of many officers thought Casey kicked the quarterback and ejected him from the sport. His face di lui had a glance of being “heartbroken,” mentioned Matt Combs, then-Alexander’s soccer coach.
What’s revealing, although, is what Casey did after. He was allowed to remain on the sideline. So he did and was a supply of power.
“As a substitute of him simply kinda going to the again and never being part of it,” Combs mentioned, “he stood there on the sideline and he cheered his butt off.”
Maybe right here lies the essence of Aaron Casey. Somebody who regarded heartbroken upon his seemingly unfair ejection di lui, nonetheless had the disposition to cheer for his group di lui. At IU this season, Casey is a part of a brand new custom. An IU participant is sporting No. 44 in honor of the late George Taliaferro – a legend and civil rights trailblazer. He was a standout at IU, a three-time All-American. Taliaferro was the primary Black participant drafted by an NFL group.
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Casey was the primary recipient of the George Taliaferro Award. He modified his quantity from 46 to 44. In three video games sporting No. 44 this season, he’s second on IU in whole tackles. He has been – and figures to proceed to be – a key a part of IU’s protection. His IU profession di lui, which hasn’t essentially been outlined by hype and publicity, appears to be beginning to take off.
It appears cheap, although, to surprise why.
What makes Casey the kind of particular person to honor the legacy of Taliaferro?
Speak to sufficient individuals – even earlier than his time at IU – and the reply will seemingly be clear.
Think about the shoestring ejection. The message to his youthful brother than him. Plus, the crab truffles. And the blanket. It would not cease there.
“If my son can develop up and be half the person he’s,” Combs mentioned, “then I might think about my son fairly profitable.”
Uliton Casey delivered a message to Aaron’s older brother. It was across the time Aaron’s older brother began enjoying soccer. Preserve working arduous, arduous work all the time pays off, Uliton mentioned. Aaron was there for that. When he received older, he had the maturity to cross the same, clever message to his youthful brother di lui.
“Me and my spouse simply type of take a look at one another like…” mentioned Uliton, Aaron’s father.
“Wow,” mentioned Daybreak Casey, Aaron’s mom, ending Uliton’s sentence.
Casey was raised as a Christian. “We just about raised them to deal with individuals proper,” Uliton mentioned. One time, after Casey received in bother in school, he was disciplined at dwelling for it. He was actually shy as a child and when he’d exit, he “actually would not communicate to anyone,” he mentioned. His dad and mom di lui taught him to introduce himself, communicate loudly and clearly. Whereas greeting a reporter in August, Casey requested “What’s your identify?”
Early on in Casey’s athletic profession, his dad and mom jokingly gave him the nickname “Flooring.” Aaron was thick, stocky and never in a position to absolutely management his physique of him. Throughout competitions, he – or others – would find yourself on the bottom or ground. “The dad and mom can be within the stands like ‘this isn’t soccer, that is basketball,’” Daybreak mentioned. Casey, although, struggled in soccer early on, enjoying up together with his older brother di lui. However throughout one observe, he sacked the quarterback and it began clicking from there.
All through his life, the rules Casey’s dad and mom instilled in him have been evident. For Daybreak’s fiftieth birthday di lei, Casey stunned her by having crab truffles despatched (Daybreak and Uliton are each from northeast DC). Casey gave Daybreak a blanket with photos of her household di lei on it. In highschool sports activities, too, his character di lui made an impression on these round him. Casey frolicked with the then-Alexander safeties coach’s sons, operating round with them, hugging them, high-fiving them. Throughout his personal recruiting course of, Casey made some extent to speak about his teammates to attempt to assist them get recruited.
Although Casey was a standout soccer participant at Alexander, he was keen to be a task participant for the basketball group. His model of play di lui was one much like what he was when he was youthful. Diving for unfastened balls. Taking fees. “If he is going for a rebound, he might sling someone to the ground,” mentioned Jason Slate, Alexander’s basketball coach. When the group was struggling, Aaron was a supply of positivity.
One time, a few basketball gamers received into an altercation whereas within the weight room. Casey wasn’t there. Issues, although, may’ve been completely different if he was current.
“Daggum,” Slate mentioned, “if Aaron would’ve been in our fourth interval weight class, none of this may’ve ever occurred ‘trigger he would’ve had everyone in line.”
Mike Pechac, IU soccer’s Director of Participant Improvement & Educational Enhancement, approached Casey and defined the chance to honor Taliaferro. Pechac requested Casey if he wished to alter numbers to 44. “In fact, I mentioned sure,” he mentioned. Later, Casey talked to IU coach Tom Allen.
“I used to be kinda stunned it was me,” Casey mentioned. “There are such a lot of nice guys on our group. And I assume one thing in me caught out. “
For Casey, getting thus far has taken time. He redshirted the 2018 season. Through the 2019 season, he appeared in all 13 video games, totally on particular groups. “I simply noticed his efficiency of him on particular groups,” Allen mentioned. “To me, that is actually the place the selflessness comes out.” Over the following two seasons, Casey began only one recreation. Regardless of that, he mentioned he by no means considered coming into the switch portal. In a time the place it appears instantaneous gratification is rewarded, he waited.
“Going into like final yr, I did not actually play as a lot as I wished to,” Casey mentioned. “So I used to be simply kinda – I used to be down by that. However I simply know I ought to simply stick via it. And, on the finish of the day, like belief the method and end out my profession right here at Indiana how I wished to. “
There have been questions coming into this season who may assist fill the manufacturing of departed star linebacker Micah McFadden. Casey has emerged as a type of items. He has began all three video games this season for the Hoosiers, changing into an necessary complementary piece to burgeoning star Cam Jones.
“I believe that it is his character on and off the sphere,” Allen mentioned of Casey. “I simply assume he is the type of person who… is aware of who he’s, is aware of what he believes, stays true to that, is constant in what he brings each single day. (He) is a good teammate. No matter position he is given, no matter he has been requested to do since he has been right here, he does it with great effort, toughness. And he’s a mentally and bodily powerful man. “
There’s, it appears, a multiplicity of layers to Casey. He’s, Allen mentioned, “actually quiet.” However James Head Jr. mentioned of Casey: “Individuals actually do not know this, however he is actually one of many funniest guys on our group.” Throughout a dialog when IU was recruiting him, Casey was standing within the lodge foyer smiling. “Simply gazing you, simply smiling,” mentioned Kasey Teegardin, IU’s particular groups coordinator / outdoors linebackers coach. “… That is simply how he’s. I find it irresistible. “
Chad Wilt, IU’s defensive coordinator / linebackers coach, mentioned Casey has “an aura, a charisma.” Casey, Wilt mentioned, appears to be like you within the eyes. At spring observe, Wilt’s father briefly met Casey. Even in that brief interval, it left an impression on Wilt’s father di lui. “He mentioned ‘man, what an incredible child,’ ‘Wilt mentioned.
So sure, think about the small print. Think about the shoestring ejection. The message to his youthful brother than him. The crab truffles and the blanket.
The little issues, finally, may add up.
“It isn’t a giant spotlight story,” Slate mentioned. “What it’s, is a narrative of somebody who tries his highest to do proper on daily basis.”