ATLANTA – Aubrey Solomon is one of Georgia’s most coveted high school football recruits, but that’s not all that defines him.
The 4-star defensive tackle from Lee County High School has another passion that may surprise people.
“I love to play badminton,” Solomon said.
It’s an unusual hobby for a hulking football player like Solomon. But the same size and natural athleticism that make him a force on the football field make him tough to beat on the badminton court, too.
“When I was little, we’d always go to family cookouts (and play), and I was just good,” Solomon said with a grin.
Just like football, Solomon said he takes badminton “pretty serious.” When the family gets together and plays, he’s said it’s “pretty much me versus them.”
He brings that same competitiveness to the football field, and college football programs have taken notice. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound lineman committed to Michigan in June and is being courted by other major programs like Georgia, Florida and USC.
What makes him so disruptive? His teammate on the defensive line, Tory Carter, points to his attitude.
“He’s an aggressive person,” Carter said. “That makes a great football player, having a lot of aggression.”
That aggression combined with Solomon’s physical tools also makes him a dangerous player. Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio said he hasn’t seen many players as talented as Solomon.
“The thing that Aubrey’s got is there’s just very few kids that are his size that have flexibility like he does,” Fabrizio said. “The ability to bend and play with leverage like he’s able to. That’s the thing that I think separates him from a lot of guys.”
Solomon has two superstitions that he believes help him play better. The first is a “lucky girdle” that he’s worn since his freshman year. It’s three sizes too big, but he always wears it anyway.
His other lucky charm sits in the stands during Lee County games: his mother, Sabrina Caldwell.
Solomon is the third of five children whom Caldwell raises on her own. He needs to know she’s in the crowd whenever he takes the field.
“I’m a big mama’s boy. Huge mama’s boy,” Solomon said. “She’s a single parent, so she’s all I got. So definitely she touches my heart a lot. She’s my rock.”
His mother, Fabrizio said, raised Solomon to be an extremely respectful young man who cares about others. That comes through in his relationships with his coaches as well as his teammates.
“He’s a great teammate,” Carter said. “When (one of us is) down one day, we pick the other up. When I’m down, he picks me up.”
His mother wasn’t thrilled when he first committed to the Wolverines. However, Michigan won them both over with its classroom offerings.
“When I was there, I fell in love with the academics,” Solomon said. “Academically, I could be set (at Michigan) for life. So I really like that.”
Solomon said his personal relationship with the coaching staff will also be an important factor in the school he attends. He said he has that relationship with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. Unlike the image that Harbaugh presents to the media, Solomon describes the coach as a “chill person.”
Solomon says he’s not quite done with his recruitment. Florida and Georgia are his top two schools apart from Michigan, and he’s still listening to their pitches. Both schools would be significantly closer to his family. Would that be a factor in his decision?
“A little bit,” he said, “but not much.”
Harbaugh has already developed a bond with Solomon and pitched him Michigan’s academics. If he wants to hold off those SEC schools, perhaps his next move should be sending the recruit information on the Wolverines’ many extracurricular activities. Included among those: badminton club.