When it comes to Auburn High football player Aaron Diggs, it’s fair to say the senior linebacker does it all.
Diggs is a standout defender for the Tigers and has earned that recognition while splitting time at strong-side, weak-side and middle linebacker. He also contributes at running back, coming through with a touchdown reception against Opelika two weeks ago and a rushing touchdown against Enterprise last Friday.
But as strong as Diggs’ stats and scores are, they are only a portion of what makes him so impressive. Diggs’ production on the football field is matched with his efforts off it, which includes his hard work in the classroom and his dedication to community service.
Teammate and close friend Omari Porter didn’t hesitate when asked about the example Diggs sets for the rest of the Tigers’ squad.
“Aaron is somebody who represents our program well. He's kind of like the poster child of our program,” Porter said. “It's an example we love to have set for our program. Him not missing anything really in terms of practices or workouts or him not messing up in school, the younger guys are looking for an identity like that.
“I think it’s wonderful to see a guy who's successful off the field and on the field and kind of prides himself in that.”
Porter has seen Diggs’ dedication and perseverance up close ever since Porter moved to Auburn prior to the 2017 season. For Diggs, that attitude was ingrained in him from the beginning.
Diggs’ father, Willie, was in the Army for 23 years. His father’s military career meant a lot of travel for Diggs, who was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and later spent time living in Fort Worth, Texas; McDonough, Georgia; and Honolulu, Hawaii, before moving to Auburn his seventh-grade year.
Although the constant moving meant making new friends and settling into new schools again and again, Diggs credits the lifestyle for exposing him to different challenges in sports as well as different people.
“That definitely shaped me as an athlete and as a person in general,” Diggs said. “I've seen a lot of competition, and I've seen a lot of things that have given me more experience toward football and life. It's definitely been a big factor to me and my role in life.”
Diggs settled into his newest hometown in middle school and continued to use his life lessons to his advantage once he reached Auburn High. His work ethic and attention to detail led to playing time as a sophomore during a season in which the Tigers won 10 games.
Diggs’ natural ability made playing time conceivable as a 10th grader, but it was his relentless preparation that really prepared him for those big moments.
“I don't think Aaron has missed a workout in his whole career here. He just seeks excellence in everything he does,” Auburn High head coach Adam Winegarden said. “In my experience, guys who are great producers on the field are also consistent in the other parts of their lives, too. It's not by mistake.”
Diggs’ role on defense grew in his junior season, and he once again took full advantage. He recorded 44 solo tackles and four sacks in 2018 and also recovered five fumbles while forcing three others. His play was paramount for the Tigers, which again won 10 games and allowed only 10.9 points per game defensively.
Putting others first
Despite Diggs truly coming onto the scene for Auburn last fall, he maintained a team-first attitude. He has proven himself capable of breaking big plays on offense, but he said he has no preference about where he plays for the Tigers. If there’s a hole that needs to be filled in any of the game’s three phases, Diggs said he is willing to step up.
Diggs’ eagerness to help those around him doesn’t stop between the hash marks, either.
Diggs provides some of his free time to the Key Club, a high school service program in which students volunteer for activities such as cleaning up parks or organizing food drives. Porter said Diggs also helps with special-education students at Auburn High, creating friendships that most of the kids would have never envisioned.
Diggs secured his football future this summer by committing to Coastal Carolina in June. He’s also set himself well for life outside football, as evidenced by his personal goals in his final season.
Diggs has football objectives like making the All-State team and being selected to the Alabama vs. Mississippi All-Star game, but his primary goal is being “set for life.” The Auburn High coaches stress that football isn’t everything, and Diggs has taken that to heart with his preparation when he’s not wearing his helmet and shoulder pads.
Diggs learned at any early age what it means to lead others and to make the most of an opportunity. Diggs has run with that philosophy during his time at Auburn High, and he’s determined to never take the chances he’s given for granted.
“It's a blessing. God has given everyone a gift, and luckily God has given me the gift to be an athlete,” Diggs said. “I just try to take advantage of it every opportunity I get.”