Pitt's Seun Idowu, George Aston form lasting bond
Seun Idowu was a scout-team linebacker when he collided with Pitt fullback George Aston one day at practice. Amazingly, they’re still best friends.
Idowu is just happy he can live to tell the story.
The incident occurred several years ago, but Idowu remembers every detail.
“He came through a hole,” he said of Aston. “I’m not going to lie to you. I was a little shook because we made eye contact, and I said, ‘I’m about to get bulldozed. I just have to go low.’
“We hit, and I was cool. I got the butterflies out. But it was a good lick. Little stinger in my neck.”
And a friendship passed its first test.
“The legend is real,” said Idowu, a North Allegheny graduate.
The two have been roommates through most of their time on campus, connecting during their visit to Pitt as high school seniors looking for a place to spend the next five years. Eventually, they joined the team as walk-ons, bonded by their goal to one day earn a scholarship.
It didn’t take long.
Now, they’re seniors getting ready for their final game at Heinz Field on Saturday, with first place in the ACC Coastal on the line.
Aston, a 6-foot, 240-pounder with thick, rippled muscles, was the first to earn a scholarship. He returned the favor of free tuition by scoring 10 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016.
“I kind of looked up to him,” Idowu said. “I said, ‘I have to catch up. I’m kinda behind.’ ”
They took their friendly competition from the field to the indoor training facility during winter conditioning.
“I’d beat him, and he’d beat me. We’d go back and forth the whole day,” Idowu said. “We’d be laughing at each other the whole time. Humanize it a little bit.”
Idowu earned his scholarship two years ago and will line up Saturday as a three-year starter and a 2017 second-team All-ACC linebacker.
This season, after missing most of 2017 with an injury, Aston has become more of a blocking back, and it’s no coincidence the Pitt running game is ranked 20th in the nation, third in the ACC (an average of 230.8 yards per game).
“He’s a beast,” coach Pat Narduzzi said.
“I feel I’ve definitely become a lot better football player this year, even though I don’t have the stats,” Aston said. “Before, even though I was scoring touchdowns, I wasn’t doing anything crazy. Guys were just blocking real good. I had the easiest job on those plays.”
Funny thing, though. When Aston is asked about his favorite block, he doesn’t reference any he’s delivered this season.
“My very first play back (from the foot injury in 2017), I pancaked a guy from Georgia Tech,” he said.
This year, his favorite hit was a tackle he made covering a punt against Virginia last week. He launched himself almost 5 yards in the air, helping bring down the Cavaliers’ Tavares Kelly after a short return.
“I came in and cleaned him up a little bit,” Aston said, unashamed to be proud.
Aston’s real source of pride rises from his work in the weight room.
Aston has not been asked to “max out,” but he said he can lift more than 600 pounds in the squat and in the high 400s on the bench.
Is he is the so-called king of the weight room?
“Oh, yeah,” Aston quickly answers. “Stef (offensive tackle Stefano Million, who is 5 inches taller and 60 pounds heavier) was a little close, but I passed him up this past weekend. There are no challenges.”
Idowu is an eyewitness.
“No one is close,” he said.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.