TomVH: An Interview with Pierre Aka

Submitted by TomVH on March 1st, 2011 at 1:10 PM

It's not every day that a high school football recruit says that they want to major in nuclear engineering. That, however, happens to be the case for Indiana tight end Pierre Aka out of Pike High School. "I'm a really unique person. When I was looking at different jobs I was interested in engineering came up," said Pierre. "When I was little I was watching this show and I wondered how they created all those buildings, and how did they make sure everything was right. I've always been good at Math and Science, so it seems natural for me." 

Not only is it unique for a teenager to have a grasp for what they want to do in the future, but Pierre also understands why he wants to major in engineering. "In the next ten years nuclear engineering needs more people. Creating power sources interests me, and I know not many people are into it but I am," he said. His future job choice isn't the only aspect about him that makes him unique. "I was born in France, and my parents are from Africa. I moved to the United States when I was eleven, so I don't remember too much," Pierre said. His full name is Pierre Jean-Baptist Aka, which gives a great sense of his heritage. 

Combine his smarts and self-awareness with his 6-foot-4, 250-pound frame and you have a football prospect that will garner some serious attention. "There's a lot of schools that are interested, and that have been recruiting me right now. I have a top four though of Stanford, Michigan, Northwestern, and Penn State," Aka said. Academics has obviously been a main focus for him, and he's serious about his future. "A school like Indiana, they don't offer my major so they're automatically at the bottom of the list. Michigan and Stanford are both ranked high for their engineering schools, so they stick out to me," he said. 

Outside of the classroom and on the football field Aka believes he has a high ceiling, and room for improvement. "I'm a little raw right now. I've been playing since I was in eighth grade, but I'm a run blocking tight end," Pierre said. His high school team runs a spread offense that typically only uses tight ends for blocking. That hasn't stopped him, though, from making his presence on the field. "I finish every play. When I step on that line I'm looking to destroy the guy in front of me. I don't stop until the whistle blows twice, and I'm not the tight end that catches a ton of balls but I still make plays," he said. 

With regards to Michigan specifically, Pierre has been in contact with the coaching staff and plans to look further into how he would fit with Michigan. "I've talked to Coach Borges and he said they're going to evaluate me and that we'll stay in contact," he said. While no offer has been extended yet, tight end is a position of need for the Wolverines. The next moves for Aka will be to take visits, and continue to build relationships with coaching staffs. 



March 1st, 2011 at 1:25 PM ^

As a Michigan Nuclear Engineer, I love this kid. Tom, please tell him that not only is th College of Engineering awesome, but the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences department consistently ranks among the best Nuclear Engineering departments in the country.


March 2nd, 2011 at 10:32 AM ^

to any Michigan football player that has to take Quantum Mechanics while fighting for playing time his junior year. I still remember how fun my sophomore Intro NERS course was and how much more difficult Quantum Mechanics was. My graduation class described it as moving from Candy Land to boot camp.


March 1st, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

I don't like it.  I want my football players to have communication degrees.  How are they supposed to effectively communicate in the huddle if they don't study this stuff in college?


March 1st, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

He's only been playing football for a couple years and loves to 6'4'' 250 lbs I wonder if he can grow into a OG at the next level. 


March 1st, 2011 at 2:22 PM ^

Honest Question:  Would his frame and athletic ability as a TE not correlate more to being a Tackle than a Guard?  Is he not tall enough for the Tackle position?  I ask because it seems like a TE would have an easier transition to Tackle than to Guard, no?


March 1st, 2011 at 9:12 PM ^

It depends how the staff wants to use his skill set.  It sounds like Pierre will be the first to admit he won't be a major threat in the passing game, which may limit how the staff can utilize him as a TE.  

Then again, he's only been playing the sport for a couple of years so he probably has room for growth at multiple positions.  Either way I like him as an addition to this class.


March 2nd, 2011 at 5:10 PM ^

Nobody wants to "change" his position, but none of these guys have positions that are set in stone anyway.  Lot's of guys in college play a different position than they played in high school or than they were recruited to play in college.  It happens.

However, it sounds like Pierre will admit his limiatations, as said above, as well as his strengths.  If he's a HS TE who does a lot of blocking and not so much pass catching, than he might not be a good fit for TE in college but a great fit on the OL.  Since he's already 250, that lends itself to growing into a bigger position as well. 

Maybe you bring him in as a TE and tell him that he might move to another spot if he either grows too much or can't get the route running and pass catching thing down well enough.  I'm OK with that since we need OL and DL anyway.


March 1st, 2011 at 5:40 PM ^

You're definitely right that TEs who grow into linemen typically grow into tackles, but part of that has to do with height and part of that has to do with footwork. However, this guy is on the shorter side for a TE prospect (and also an OT prospect) and it sounds like his game consists of a lot more plowing and run-blocking than your typical TE coming out of HS, which translates more to guard.

If this guy can keep putting on some weight, I'd be all for him being offered as an athletic OG. He likely wouldn't be an early contributor because of his weight, but he could be plenty big by the time he's an upperclassman.


March 1st, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

I did this interview last week sometime, I was going to post this yesterday but I got busy. He talked to me today about everything, and since we last spoke he had looked up where Michigan ranks in nuclear engineering. 

I believe US News has Michigan at #1 overall, which he noticed. Stanford is probably the main competition, if they offer, but he really likes Michigan.


March 1st, 2011 at 4:44 PM ^

I don't think you can make up that kind of interest.  Michigan, Stanford, and Penn State are probably exactly the schools you want to look at for that degree.  Someone else has brought up this point in the recent past, but notice this isn't a kid saying academics are very important, then listing Florida State and Arizona in his Top 5. 

Marchent le Bleu, Pierre


March 1st, 2011 at 7:17 PM ^

A little issue I have with the second picture:  I assume that's supposed to be John the Baptist baptizing Jesus.  But why does John the Baptist have a cross on his staff if Jesus is still alive?  I'm assuming the cross wasn't used as a symbol for Christ/Christianity until after the crucifiction. 

Unless John the Baptist already knew something no one else did.  It might have made for an awkward conversation:

Jesus: Hey John, what's with that cross on the end of your stick there?  What does that symbolize?

John the Baptist: Eh, you don't wanna know.


March 2nd, 2011 at 9:04 AM ^

Not sure if the videos did him justice.  As a TE/Blocker, gets off the line too high. Also does not use his feet enough to drive through.  Most of his success is man-handling lesser athtetic profile opposition.  I am familiar with his football conference and there are fundamentally sound teams but are not the most physical which makes me slightly skeptical how he would manage versus an opponent of his strength/size.

The kid is a great athlete and has raw talent.  I think with the right coaching he could be a DE. Combined with what seems to be great character, ambition, and academic focus I would like to see him on our squad but would mark him lower on the priority list.


March 2nd, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

I don't care how talented he is, I want him on the team just so we can watch half-time profiles about him filmed in the nuclear engineering labs on north campus. You can't coach smarts.