football Edit

Aaron Graves looking forward to junior year

Now up 260 pounds, Aaron Graves is looking forward to starting the season next week.
Now up 260 pounds, Aaron Graves is looking forward to starting the season next week.

After finishing his sophomore year with 69 tackles, 12 TFL, and 10 sacks, defensive end Aaron Graves is poised to have an even bigger season this fall as a junior. As Graves gets ready for Southeast Valley’s season opener at Clarke on August 28, the Iowa commit is mainly just grateful for the opportunity to get back on the field.

“It’s good to have something back to normal after everything that’s been going on,” said Graves. “It’s been great getting back in pads and hitting people, just getting ready for our first game next Friday.”

This summer, Graves drove an hour each way to Ames on most days to work out at Premier Athlete Training to get ready for the upcoming season.

“That’s where I was most of the summer, working out five or six times a week,” Graves said. “A lot of it was focused around transferring over what we do into the weight room to the field.”

Working with trainer Mike Libruk, Graves has made significant gains in strength and agility as he continues to develop his body as a 17-year old junior in high school.

"Aaron is of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever had," said Libruk. "In the past year, he has added seven inches to his standing vertical leap, 130 pounds to his squat and 50 pounds to his best clean with far superior technique. His bench press has also increased by 60 pounds."

Now up to 260 pounds, the 6-foot-5 Graves will definitely be a force to be reckoned with on the field this season.

"Compared to last year, physically he makes last year's Aaron Graves look like a child," said Libruk. "He’s added roughly 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. He creates much better angles and puts significantly more power into the ground than last season. He’s faster and more efficient in terms of his agility and his top speed. I’m very excited for his upcoming season."

This year, Graves will be starting both ways again for Southeast Valley, playing defensive end and offensive guard, and says all of his goals for the season remain team oriented.

“I’m really just focused on doing my job the best I can to help out the team,” said Graves. “Whatever I can do to make everybody else’s job easier is the best thing I can do as a player. I’m just going to do my job and try to win football games. That’s the whole goal right?”

Recently named one of the top 100 recruits in the country by, Graves says that he tries not to pay much attention to that type of stuff and just lets his play on the field do the talking instead.

“Initially, like my freshman year, I thought being ranked was pretty neat, but as time goes on you kind of realize that all the rankings are pretty irrelevant if it doesn’t transfer over the field,” Graves said. “None of it really matters if you’re not the football player the rankings say you are on Fridays and then especially Saturdays once you get to college.”

For Graves, that will be at the University of Iowa in 2022 and he was able to get a glimpse of his future as a Hawkeye when he visited Kinnick Stadium for games last season.

“I went to a junior day and a couple games last fall, which was a lot of fun,” said Graves. “I’m still 100% with Iowa. Nothing has changed there.”

Growing up in a small town - Dayton, IA, population 775 - Graves realizes his commitment to the Hawkeyes is a big deal locally and wants to be a role model for the next generation at Southeast Valley.

“I really think for the younger kids growing up in such a small town, it shows that if you work hard and put your head down and grind, you can achieve big things,” said Graves.