Tremendous transformation

By Gus Bode

When Aaron Lockwood stepped onto the SIUC campus in 2005 he was a 360-pound aspiring shot putter with 11 inches of hair.

This season, the reigning All-Gateway Conference honorable mention guard weighs-in at a conservative 288 pounds and sports a much more weather-friendly hairdo.

His appearance, along with his shift in attitude, are a sign of the changing times for a player his coaches call one of the best offensive lineman in the conference.


“That was kind of my young, rebel days,” Lockwood said. “This is me grown up a little bit.”

Lockwood attributed his drastic change in appearance to a strict diet, devotion to strength training and overarching desire to get on the field and participate in the sport he’s loved since first donning the jersey in the third grade.

“When I first got down here I remember Coach Kill told me, he goes, ‘You’re too fat to play,'” Lockwood said with a laugh. “He said, ‘You’ve got to lose that weight or I can’t do anything with you.’ And I said, ‘You know what, that’s true.’ “

Lockwood said the desire to change didn’t simply come from the words of his coaches, however.

“I looked at the way I was going, you know, and I didn’t like the guy I was looking at in the mirror,” Lockwood said. “I wouldn’t go to class a lot. I’d think of any way to just go be lazy, lay around, not do anything.”

Lockwood said it wasn’t until he really decided to embrace what his coaches and the football program were instilling in him that he chose to make the change, and the results have definitely paid off.

After redshirting in 2005, Lockwood started all 13 games at left guard in 2006, earning the Gateway’s Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week award after SIU’s 49-0 defeat of Lock Haven.


When it comes to the no-nonsense, nitty-gritty play required in an offensive lineman, Lockwood fits right in, said senior quarterback Nick Hill.

“He did it all on his own,” Hill said. “He’s a beast now. Physically he’s probably one of the best linemen in the conference, no doubt. I look forward to playing with him and I feel really good knowing that Aaron Lockwood is in front of me.”

Head coach Jerry Kill said it didn’t take much to turn Lockwood around.

“When he came in he was fairly immature, and I told him he needed to grow up. That’s basically all I said,” Kill said. “I said you grow up, you’ve got a great future.”

Kill said he was not surprised by the physical transformation of Lockwood, who he calls one of the most underrated offensive linemen in the country. He said it was clear from Lockwood’s pedigree of past coaches that he would turn it around and flourish at SIU.

Bill Lowe, who coached Lockwood for three years at Seaman High School in Topeka, Kan., described the three-year varsity starter in two words.

“Wild man,” Lowe said with a laugh. “Off the field he’s just fun-loving, a big teddy bear, but when he stepped over the lines and stepped on the field, he’s a different person.”

Lowe said Lockwood’s determination and desire were among the intangibles that set him above the pack and forced other players to step up their games to attempt to compete.

“He’d just play his guts out every play, and he’d give you everything he had, and he loved it. It was just something he fed off of,” Lowe said. “He’s just got that knack when the ball is snapped. It’s like a war with him every play. He’s just got to conquer somebody.”

Lockwood described football as his “release from everyday life” and credited it and the program for turning his life around.

“If you really sell out and buy in to something, when you really put 110 percent into what you believe in, anything can work for you,” Lockwood said. “If you really buy into something that you love and care about, I think in the end you’re going to see a lot of results out of yourself, and you’re going to see someone you may not have thought was there at first.”

Daily Egyptian writer Sean McGahan can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 269 or [email protected].