North Texas Daily

Local two-sport athlete revamps football career after professional baseball

Local two-sport athlete revamps football career after professional baseball

Local two-sport athlete revamps football career after professional baseball
October 24
10:18 2019

After spending six seasons of professional baseball within the New York Yankees organization, redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Aune is now pursuing a college football career. The former two-sport high school athlete from Argyle brings experience to the quarterback depth chart for the Mean Green as a transfer from Arkansas during the 2018 spring season.

“Professional baseball helped me get the football grind back since I was practicing and playing every day in the minor leagues,” Aune said. “Both sports have similarities, but the days with football are shorter and better structured. With baseball the season went from March to September and there was a game every single day.”

Aune was drafted in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees as a senior out of Argyle High. Months before choosing professional baseball, the three-star recruit signed to play football at Texas Christian. He threw for 3,411 yards and 33 touchdowns, including 598 rushing yards and nine touchdowns his senior year to become the District 9-3A Co-MVP.

His talents on the baseball diamond attracted Major League Baseball scouts. Aune was the district MVP at shortstop for the Argyle Eagles with a .447 batting average, eight home runs, 20 stolen bases and 41 RBI’s during his senior season. The power, speed and athleticism lead him to be picked No. 89 overall with a $1 million signing bonus.

“There were Major League Baseball scouts attending our games his senior year,” Argyle head baseball coach Ricky Griffin said. “The New York Yankees really wanted him and we had a great team that year because of his skill level.”

On the day he was drafted in 2012, Aune was in his summer workouts with the Texas Christian football team. He decided to set football aside to pursue baseball with the New York Yankees.

“It was a tough decision at the time to make because I wanted to play both sports,” Aune said. “TCU gave me a good opportunity to play both sports but the time to play professional baseball was now and then. I always knew that I could come back and play football later but to come back and play baseball is a different story.”

During his minor league baseball tenure, Aune hit 20 home runs and 148 RBI’s with four different programs but never touched the majors. Now as a 26-year-old retired from baseball since 2017, he believes that college football has moved his life in a positive direction. The relationships and experiences with coaches and teammates are what motivate him to play.

“He fits in so well with the rest of the team that you sometimes forget he’s 26,” senior wide receiver Michael Lawrence said. “I’ve seen his wrist and the way he throws the ball. The rotation and the speed out of his hand is absolutely crazy.”

Despite spending nearly seven years away from football, Aune was able to keep his arm in shape as a baseball player while throwing the ball throughout the season. The Mean Green football coaching staff was aware that this could’ve been an advantage that helped minimize rust during Aune’s transition back to football.

“He doesn’t look like a normal 26-year-old,” said Bodie Reeder, quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. “You can really tell he’s got a professional manner by the way he carries himself and you notice maturity.”

Within the last 25 years of college football, there have been numerous quarterbacks and athletes that played minor league baseball straight out of high school and later pursued the college gridiron. Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State and Chris Wienke of Florida State are some of the most well-known examples as they played as 26 and 27-year-olds at the collegiate level. Weeden and Wienke eventually played in the NFL after their college careers, something Aune could follow likewise.

“Professional baseball and college football have the same mold,” Reeder said. “Now we just have to get him in the swing of things. I think he’s leaned on Mason Fine to gain some of that football experience back.”

Aune currently serves as the third string quarterback behind senior quarterback Mason Fine and redshirt freshman Jason Bean and still tries to lead the Mean Green with six years of experience from a professional sports setting. Aune has yet to receive a snap on a Saturday this season but takes note of practices and games on how to maximize his potential as a future leader for the team.

“What I’ve learned is that [Fine] is an ultimate competitor,” Aune said. “He’s always expecting greatness, paying attention to details and that makes him a great source to follow. Even though I’m older, I still look up to him on how to approach the game and ways to improve since he’s a great leader and quarterback.”

Featured Image: Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Aune hands off the ball to junior running back Evan Johnson at the game against San-Antonio at Apogee Stadium on Sept. 21, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard

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Preston Rios

Preston Rios

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