McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linfield’s Aaron Heston will suit up in a football uniform at least one more time when he competes in the Dixie Gridiron Classic Game this Saturday. The inaugural all-star game, which begins at noon MST (11 a.m. PST), takes place on the campus of Dixie State College in St. George, Utah.
Heston, an offensive tackle, is one of 90 collegiate football players invited to play in the all-star game, but is the sole representative from Division III.
“It’s a unique opportunity for me to go up against Division-I players,” he said. “It’s cool to see the big players that you watch on TV and realize they’re just like you,”
Heston has already received great recognition for his superb play at Linfield. This season, he was a first-team all-Northwest Conference selection and was honored as a second-team All-American by d3football.com.
But the all-star game provides Heston with greater exposure to scouts from the National Football League, who will determine whether he has the skills to play at the next level. At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, Heston believes he has the size to play at the next level, but said he needs to prove he also possesses the talent.
Heston reported to St. George earlier this week and began practicing Tuesday. So far, he is pleased by how he has performed, and hopes to start the game.
“I’m holding my own pretty well,” Heston said. “I don’t think people took me very seriously (in the beginning) but after I had a good practice on Tuesday, people started paying attention.”
He describes the practices as intense, but not “erratically different” from what he experienced at Linfield.
Heston credits his college coaches for helping to prepare him for this experience. He says the hard work ethic, intensity and mental discipline he learned as a Wildcat are things that differentiate him from the other players on the all-star team.
“I am eternally grateful to my coaches,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Heston said he does not expect to be picked up in the NFL Draft, which takes place April 28-30, but hopes to show enough promise to sign a contract with a professional team after the draft.
“If I get my foot in the door, they have to push me out,” Heston said.
After the all-star game, Heston hopes to attend a Pro Day at either Portland State University or Western Washington University sometime in March.
Three-time all-NWC selection
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128