TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Jaylen Harrell, who has chosen to continue his football career at the University of Michigan, told me his mother got him into football.
If you are not surprised, I will tell you why you should be surprised.
Jaylen is the son of James Harrell. James played college football at the University of Florida. He also played football in the NFL, primarily for the Detroit Lions.
When I asked Jaylen who introduced him to the sport, he pointed to his mother, Aria Siplin. I feel the introduction may have been rather innocent.
“We started football like other parents do in terms of looking for activities for our kids to participate in,” said Aria.
I met her and Jaylen at the National Signing Day ceremony at Berkeley Preparatory School on Wednesday.
“It started at the YMCA with flag football,” she said, “and, then, we moved to pop warner football. He really enjoyed it.”
I asked Aria if she remembers the moment she realized her son could have a future on the football field. The truthfulness of her answer made me smile.
“Well,” she said to me, “it is so funny that you ask that question because, as parents in the stands, we all thought our kids were the best.”
She did recall a comment a referee made to her when Jaylen was about 8 years old.
“The kids were running around aimlessly. However, sometimes, Jaylen would be really focused and intense and ready to make a play,” she said. “And one time, one of the referees kind of looked over and said, ‘This kid really knows what he is doing on the field. He is kind of the only one who is really into it.’ His intensity level was always very high at a young age which was kind of one of those moments like, ‘This may be something he really wants to take as far as he can.’”
He did it. Jaylen will play defensive end for the Wolverines in the fall. How did he celebrate this milestone?
“We had a little get together at my grandma’s house,” he said. “My family was all excited.”
“We have a huge family here in Tampa,” Aria told me. “Shout out to all my family! They come around, they are supportive, the number one supporters whenever Jaylen is involved in something. They want to be there. They want to congratulate him. They are excited. They are happy. They are thrilled and this is a time filled with love and celebration for him.”
LATEST SPORTS HEADLINES:
- Rays fans at watch party react to disappointing loss
- Justin Turner removed from Game 6 after testing positive for COVID-19
- Rays fall in Game 6, Dodgers win World Series
- World Series Game 6: Rays to start Snell in do-or-die game vs. Dodgers
- ‘Bucs with B.A.’: Defense on track as offense continues to take strides