QB Aaron Channing trades black and gold for AFL contract
Golden Tornado starting quarterback Aaron Channing has secured a semi-professional contract with the American Indoor Football League’s Lehigh Valley Steel Hawks and a spot on their 2016 active roster.
A transfer from Kutztown University, Channing red-shirted his first year for the Division II school before transferring to Geneva. Channing started 19 games in total for the GTs over his two year career, racking up career numbers of 3,404 yards in the air with a 57.2 percent completion rate, and 24/15 passing touchdown-interception ratio.
A disappointing ’15-’16 campaign saw Geneva’s football team finish 2-8 (1-7 PAC). Channing, a pocket passer by nature, began to cede time to mobile freshman quarterback Javid Ellis as the year progressed, and he made the decision to leave the squad in light of looming scheme changes for next season that he felt would no longer fit his skill-set.
Channing had begun to make preliminary plans to attempt to walk onto Geneva’s basketball team before he headed home for winter break.
“I decided I wasn’t going to play football anymore at Geneva … and told a friend of mine who I went to high school with,” said Channing. “A day later, he texted me and told me, ‘Yo man, you should … [look] into trying out for an arena football team. They do open try-outs.’”
Channing took his friend’s advice and signed up for the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks’ open tryout on Feb. 6, which consisted of an intensive series of evaluations, drills and testing by the team’s coaching staff.
“I went, and they offered for me to go to their training camp,” said Channing. “It was about a week-and-a-half long, with practices at night. A majority of the guys have full-time jobs, so we practiced from nine till eleven and then had an intrasquad scrimmage at the end of the week.”
From there, the front office cuts the roster down to 30 players to accommodate the indoor league’s eight-on-eight playing style.
“That’s where I made the team. It’s a crazy opportunity,” said Channing.
Despite his new gig and the chance to share the field with a myriad of teammates whose backgrounds vary from NFL veterans to former Division I, II and III players, Channing will still be around Geneva’s campus during the majority of the school week.
“I’m going to commute from Geneva to practice twice a week … Our games are once a week, and we get paid per game,” said Channing. “As far as the pay, it’s kind of cool to say you get paid as a college kid, but I don’t really care about the money. It’s just a good feeling to know that I’m playing football again.”
Currently serving as Geneva’s FCA president, Channing seeks to approach his time in the semi-professional gridiron ranks with a focus on modeling his faith and forging lasting friendships and bonds.
“[It is] a blessing that God really put this opportunity in my life. Whatever comes of it, I know it’s in his plan,” said Channing. “Building relationships along the way is really my focus with it because these opportunities don’t come around often.”
For their first game of the season on March 5, the Steelhawks won against the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets, 41-28. Their second match-up of the season and first road game will take place March 12 versus the Central Penn Capitals at 7 p.m.