Aaron Wade will forever be grateful for Utah State. After all, the Aggies took a chance on him, and he has done everything in his power to make sure they got what they were looking for.
“My experience at Utah State has been great,” said the 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior safety. “I saw snow for the first time by coming here, I met new people — friends that I will have for the rest of my life and football-wise — I have been able to play for the past five years. They gave me a chance.”
Wade had a few offers coming out of Newsome High School in Lithia, Florida, but his mother, Halimah Thomas, liked what Utah State had to offer the best.
“She loved coach (Matt) Wells,” Wade said. “I had a meeting with him recently and we were talking about my mom, and he asked about her. My mom likes him very much, so they had a good connection. She had also never seen mountains, so that was pretty nice, too.”
Wade will never forget the first time he saw the snow fall from the sky. He will also never forget his first snowball fight.
Let’s just say, it didn’t end so well for the athletic safety who possesses great length and athleticism.
“I had a snowball fight that didn’t go as I planned, so now I don’t like the snow anymore,” Wade said with a laugh. “I got hit in the head multiple times because the kids I played with at the LLC (Living Learning Community) knew how to make snowballs and I didn’t, which I thought I did, but they wouldn’t stick together. They just fell apart.”
While Wade may struggle with crafting the perfect snowball, the same can’t be said for his play on the field.
Through the first nine games of the season, he has recorded 27 tackles, including 1.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions and two pass breakups. Coming into the year, he had combined for just 17 tackles in 30 games played.
“The thing that has been pleasing to me is we challenged him early in the year to become more consistent in his preparation, to become more consistent in his practice habits, and it has showed up,” said defensive coordinator/safeties coach Keith Patterson. “Now, he’s bought in because he saw the carry-over from preparation and practicing and learning how to just trust your training. Therefore, he’s become a more consistent player. He’s been big for us on special teams, and we’ve tried to create roles and personnel packages where he’s more involved in the defensive scheme, as well.”
In his first start of the season, Wade made it count. In Utah State’s 60-13 home-opening win over New Mexico State on Sept. 8, Wade racked up a career-high 10 tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss. He also intercepted the first two passes of his career and had one of his two pass breakups on the season.
“That game was awesome,” Wade recalled. “Coach (Wells) gave me a game ball. Back in high school, coach would never give game balls out, even if you did do well. He’d just say, ‘Congrats, do your thing,’ so that was my first time getting the game ball.”
Wade’s first-career interception came at the end of the first half against New Mexico State. His second one led to a 51-yard field goal by junior placekicker Dominik Eberle in the fourth quarter.
“That was fun,” Wade said. “I’m going to remember that game for the rest of my life.”
Wells was extremely pleased with the way his senior safety performed against NMSU.
“When you look at the depth that we had in the secondary, which was very thin, to see a guy like Aaron Wade step up, get that start and play the way he did, really, it highlights Aaron more than anything,” Wells said. “The job that his defensive back coaches did with him, they challenged him early in the week, and he met the challenge. He took the challenge, he stood up and did a really nice job. He had a big game. That, to me, tells you a little bit about the guy’s character and his want-to and his focus.”
Wade said he will also remember being a member of the Utah State teams that beat in-state rival BYU in back-to-back years, the first time that has happened in 44 years.
In last year’s meeting against BYU in Logan, a 40-24 victory for the Aggies, Wade did not get to play. However, he notched four tackles in the 45-20 win at Provo earlier this season.
“This year has been fun,” he said. “It’s fun to come to practice. Nobody is dragging coming to practice. When you go to practice, it’s time to work because you’ve got to keep going and keep working.”
Prior to Utah State, Wade earned Florida Class 8A all-District 6 first-team honors following his junior season at Newsome HS as he recorded 77 tackles, to go along with three interceptions, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
Wade was also a member of the track and field team, earning all-state honors after finishing third in the 100 meters and fourth in the 200 meters, as well as running a leg on the 4x100-meter relay team that finished second at the 4A District 7 Championships during his senior season. As a sophomore, he garnered all-state accolades in the 100 meters and in the 200 meters as a junior.
After redshirting the 2014 season at Utah State, Wade officially made his Aggie debut in the 2015 season opener against Southern Utah. Four games later at Fresno State, he made the first two tackles of his career.Comment on this story
The son of Eddie and Halimah Thomas, who is majoring in general studies and minoring in sociology, is on track to graduate this December.
“Everything I have been doing so far is going toward teaching, so I’ll probably go back home and teach there,” Wade said. “I want to teach PE or math, and then I’m deciding whether I want to coach or not.”
Outside of football and schooling, Wade enjoys spending time with his teammates and playing the popular video game "Fortnite".
“Every Thursday my teammates come over and we just hang out,” Wade said.