Eric Aas has been part of a memorable season for the University of South Dakota football team.
The Aberdeen Central graduate is a member of the USD football team this fall. Aas has not been on a football team since he redshirted with South Dakota State in 2007. He transferred to USD the following year for school and initially thought about joining the Coyotes.
Coach (Ed) Meierkort talked to me about coming out when I first transferred and it didn't seem like it was for me at the time, Aas said. It was a decision I regretted. I just had one opportunity left, so I kind of went for it.
Aas contacted the USD coaching staff this past winter about coming out for the football team. He went through all of the offseason workouts and spring ball with the Coyotes.
He doesn't get to play a lot and won't, Meierkort said. He knows that, but he is going to come out of this with a great experience.
Aas said what he missed most about football was just being a member of a team.
Football has always been pretty important to me, Aas said. I thought that somewhere down the road that I would be upset with myself if I didn't finish college on a team. Being a part of this is just an enjoyable, important thing.
The 5-foot-10, 253-pound Aas got to play in a game so far this season. He made an appearance in the Coyotes' 48-10 win over Northwestern Oklahoma State on Sept. 17 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
It was exciting to get on that field, said the fullback. That is the first game since I was in high school.
The Coyotes played at national title contender Wisconsin the following week in front of 78,880 fans at Camp Randall Stadium. USD was humbled 59-10 against the current No. 4 team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Aas traveled with the team for the game.
Experiencing that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Aas said.
Meierkort anticipates that Aas will play in the Coyotes' Senior Day game on Nov. 12 against Division II Missouri S&T. Aas admits he would be lying if he said he didn't want to play more, but understands his role.
There are lots of people that put in a lot of time around here to be where they are, Aas said. Being on the team is probably the most important aspect. Just being on the roster is big enough.
That kind of mentality is what has impressed Meierkort about Aas, who is on pace to graduate this December.
It is kids like this why you are in this profession, Meierkort said. Everybody talks about the stars, but it is about these behind-the-scenes guys.
USD is 4-2 this season and is ranked 14th in the latest Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll. The Coyotes recently defeated then-No. 22 Southern Utah 24-19 this past Saturday in Vermillion. The Coyotes now have been ranked five consecutive weeks in the poll marking the longest streak and highest ranking since their transition to Division I.
USD also defeated then-No. 1 and defending FCS national champion Eastern Washington earlier this season in Vermillion. It was the Coyotes' first-ever win over a No. 1-ranked team since moving to Division I FCS status.
We have had some success so far this year and I think this team has high expectations, Aas said. It is just something I'm proud to be a part of.
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