Pike (Indianapolis) athlete Pierre Aka never thought he'd be committing to a Big 12 school when he was growing up. Not because he thought he wasn't good enough, but because he thought he'd be on the verge of breaking into soccer's English Premier League instead of breaking into BCS football.
"I thought I was going to be a pro soccer player," Aka said. "I was going to play for a small team in France, graduate to play for Lyon, then off to Arsenal or Barcelona.
"This is all unexpected."
On Friday, that dream officially ended, though, when Aka committed to Iowa State.
On Thursday, Aka sat down and considered all his options. He had visits to Iowa State and Minnesota set up, and was still exploring Northwestern if he could get his scores up. No need for that now, though, as Aka ended his recruitment, calling Cyclones assistant Wally Burnham to let him know he was heading to Ames next fall.
"The level of commitment as far as the athlete, education and facilities," Aka said was the main reason he committed to Iowa State. "I just think they do so much for the athlete, and I have a great relationship with the coaches."
Iowa State also offers a nuclear engineering program, which Aka plans to enroll in.
"I think first and foremost, from an educational standpoint, they had exactly what he wanted," Pike coach Derek Moyers said. "We went up there this summer, and they did a great job of showing him all that stuff. The last thing they talked about was football."
Aka said the Cyclones staff is split on whether he should play tight end or defensive end for them, so they will wait until he gets on campus to make a decision.
Defensive end in a 3-4 scheme is a new position for Aka, who played tight end and just about offensive line position before moving to defensive end. He played defensive end in a 4-3 while attending high school in Texas.
"The fundamentals I had to learn," Aka said. "From playing O-line, it helps a little bit as far as being physical."
Ames will just be the latest stop for Aka. Now living in Indianapolis, Aka also lived in Texas, the Ivory Coast and France, where he was born. He came to America in 2005 while in the sixth grade.