• 82°

Stephens inks with NCAA II Ohio Dominican

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ All-Ohio senior tight end and defensive end Aaron Stephens signed a letter-of-intent to play football at Ohio Dominican on Wednesday. Attending the signing ceremony were: seated left to right, sister Lexi, mother Tammy, Aaron, father Clark, and grandparents Jo and Jerry Rowe; standing from left to right, principal Joe Rowe, assistant football coach Craig Harvey, head coach Mark Vass, and athletic director Mark LaFon. (Tony Shotsky of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker


Aaron Stephens, meet Ohio Dominican. Nice to meet you. Would you like to play some football?
The meeting between the Ironton Fighting Tigers 6-foot-3, 215-pound two-way senior end and the coaches at Ohio Dominican went from an awkward introduction into a promising relationship.
Stephens committed himself to the working relationship when he signed a letter-of-intent to play for the Panthers.
“I never really knew much about Ohio Dominican, but as soon as I stepped on the campus I loved it. The coaches have a lot of energy,” said Stephens. “It’s a small school, but it’s near Columbus so you’re close to a big city.”
Stephens opted for ODU amid offers from Urbana, Georgetown (Ky.) and Akron. He said Akron wanted him as a walk-on long-snapper and, if he made the team, he would be placed on scholarship his sophomore year.
Ohio Dominican gave Stephens a full-paid offer.
The Panthers plan to use Stephens as a mix between tight end, fullback and receiver.
“I always liked defense. I gave up defense for a chance to play. They want to use me as a hybrid between fullback and receiver. If I can prove myself they’ll throw the ball to me. If not, I’ll just be a blocker,” said Stephens.
“They would like to red-shirt me. I think if I get up to 230 pounds I can compete for a spot.”
Stephens has proven he can catch the football. Playing in Ironton’s run-oriented offense last season, he led the Fighting Tigers with 16 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
Stephens is also valuable because of his outstanding long-snapping skills.
“It’s pretty important. I went to camps at Ohio State and Cincinnati and they taught me the fine skills of long-snapping,” said Stephens.
Todd Goebbel, offensive coordinator and assistant head coach, recruited Stephens and said the ODU staff felt Stephens was a major catch in their latest recruiting class.
“We are so excited to have Aaron become a Panther. He is a tremendous young man on and off the field with a great family,” said Goebbel.
“With limited scholarships we are always looking for top-flight players that have great value. He is a young man that will play multiple positions for us. He is a talented long snapper, as well as a fullback/tight end. Aaron is the type of player you can continue to build a successful program with.”
A two-year starter at Ironton, Stephens helped Ironton to a 14-9 record, two playoff appearances and two berths in the regional semifinals.
“The thing I remember most about Ironton is the hard work we put in as a team,” said Stephens. “Everyone said we weren’t going to be very good (last season). We came together as a team and won five straight and before we had a bunch of injuries and we still made the playoffs.”
The Panthers are members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They were 8-3 last season including 7-3 in the league.
Stephens’ talents aren’t an accident. His father Clark was an outstanding football player in high school. The elder Stephens was invited to play in the Kentucky-Tennessee All-Star Game.