NORMAN — Shortly after his junior season ended in embarrassing fashion — Oklahoma's 41-13 Cotton Bowl shellacking from Texas A&M — Aaron Colvin retreated home to Owasso, seeking some much-needed peace for a mind swarming with weighty, complicated factors.
The first-team All-Big 12 cornerback received an encouraging pre-NFL Draft grade, making a second- or third-round selection possible. Would his stock be higher or lower with another collegiate season? Would returning to Norman mean missing his peak draft positioning?
“If I had to put a percentage on it, he was 75-percent ready to leave school and enter the draft,” said his dad, Bryant Colvin. “He didn't actually tell us how close he was, but I know my son.”
Aaron Colvin ultimately picked one last season at Oklahoma, where several personal and team goals remained unaccomplished. Given his parents' lifelong emphasis on education and finishing things you start, Colvin's decision isn't terribly surprising.
Still, a bevy of considerations made the 2013 NFL Draft tough to resist. Oklahoma would return few defensive starters in 2013. By the time he arrived home in Owasso to think things over, he already knew safety Tony Jefferson — one of his closest friends — would skip his senior season to pursue the NFL dream.
“He just kind of went into a silent place for a while,” said his mother, Lisa Colvin. “He was just weighing all his options. The Cotton Bowl loss was tough. He knew Tony was leaving, and he is truly his brother. They are the best of friends. Just looking at the whole picture, losing all those guys on defense ... He was really close (to leaving).”
A blue-collar family
Aaron Colvin was born in Nashville, Tenn., and raised by a pair of hard working, blue-collar parents.
Bryant and Lisa Colvin didn't force sports upon their three sons, but did insist they stay busy with extracurricular activities.
“You're gonna play an instrument; you're gonna do something, and you're gonna do it to the best of your ability,” Bryant said.
The family moved after Lisa was transferred to Tulsa. Bryant is part owner of a sheet-metal company.
Aaron's schedule often kept him too busy to work any jobs — except when he got in trouble.
“Every time he did something wrong, I'd make him come to the shop and work,” Bryant Colvin remembered.
He'd find something really strenuous work for Aaron, then ask, “Do you wanna do this the rest of your life?”
“Heck no, dad,” Aaron would respond.
“Then go to school; get your degree.”
Colvin will graduate with a bachelor's degree in December, attaining a goal that has always been vitally important to his parents.
“You've gotta have a degree now,” Lisa said. “He loves football and we love it as well, but that's an opportunity given for you to get your degree.
“Me and his dad are blue collar. That's not what we want for them. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's hard work. We want them to use their minds and not just physical labor.”
Aaron Colvin began contributing to the Sooner defense as a true freshman, when he appeared in all 14 games on special teams and as a reserve cornerback.
His versatility meant a variety of action in 2011, when the sophomore started at strong safety but still saw occasional action at cornerback and led Oklahoma with 84 tackles.
Colvin moved back to corner full-time before his junior year and flourished in the role. He recorded four interceptions, 11 pass breakups and two sacks.
But he'd also missed the proceeding spring while recovering from a shoulder injury. That missed time is why defensive coordinator Mike Stoops thought it was so important for Colvin to play another college season.
“I was worried,” Stoops said of the days between the Cotton Bowl and Colvin's announcement that he'd return. “I was worried for him, too because I knew he would be such a better player a year from now.
“Certainly you don't know how things play out. I just feel the kid physically and mentally will be so much stronger in a year. First impressions are important when you go to the NFL. I think he'll make a better first impression now.”
Colvin spent the spring and summer bulking up, plus improving his leadership skills on an Oklahoma defense — and, more specifically, a secondary — ripe with inexperience.
Another season at cornerback in the pass-happy Big 12 will only benefit Colvin, Stoops said, adding that he believes the senior is capable of being a “dominating” player with high first-round potential in next year's draft.
“He's in a matchup just about every snap,” Stoops said. “I think he gains confidence every time he wins, and I don't think he worries about when he loses. He's winning a helluva lot more than he's losing.”
Colvin also watched last April as Jefferson wasn't drafted; the former Sooner and undrafted free agent now faces a tough, uphill battle to even secure a roster spot with the Arizona Cardinals.
“The guys who have come back have really jumped here,” Stoops said. “And some guys who came out early, it hasn't worked out very well. I think he made a great decision.”
Colvin's on-field collegiate goals — winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back; becoming an All-American; competing for a national championship — remain intact because he resisted the tempting leap at NFL riches.
But the degree remains paramount to his parents.
“We've said to him since he was in first grade — and to all of our three children — if you start something, then you need to finish it,” Bryant Colvin said. “I think there's a life lesson in finishing something that you started. He may not even use this degree. It has nothing to do with the diploma; it's about accomplishing something that you started.”