Imagine if Lincoln Riley had been the offensive coordinator during fullback Aaron Ripkowski’s career at Oklahoma. One can’t help but picture the former walk-on, who has grown into an unlikely but effective NFL multiple threat, being deployed out of the backfield possibly like a Dimitri Flowers Light (Though, I’m not sure a 6’1”, 246-pound, freight train could ever be called “light”, but you know what I mean). This is all assuming Rip’s not just a late bloomer who has found a niche with the storied Packers after being the only option left mid-season to hand the ball off to in Mike McCarthy’s anemic backfield. But as fans have seen through his college days and young NFL career, Rip’s definitely a guy who makes the most out of every opportunity he sees.
He epitomizes the position of fullback perfectly by his play, attitude, even his name. As unlikely as it seemed at the start of his college career, Aaron the Ripper now finds himself a major part of Aaron the Gunslinger’s offense in Green Bay. Going from walk-on to chief Belldozer blocker before blossoming into a versatile fullback with tremendous NFL potential, Rip couldn’t be in a better spot for his mindset and skill set. The blue-collar town of Green Bay likely appreciates the emergence and character of their young, powerful rushing weapon, and the Packers certainly know a thing or two about the value of special fullbacks.
This from Berry Tramel’s recent piece on Rip:
Clark Hinkle, Ted Fritsch, Jim Taylor, John Brockington, William Henderson. For almost a century, the Packers have valued fullbacks and elevated them to stations of status.
“Back in 2011, when Ripkowski first started leading Blake Bell to first-down yardage, Stoops marveled at his new fullback's name. “Sounds like he ought to play for Wisconsin,” Stoops cracked.
Instead, Ripkowski is playing in Wisconsin, for the hallowed Packers. A fullback game to match a fullback name, in a place of fullback fame.”
Before following his father’s advice and walking on to play college football for the Oklahoma Sooners, Rip was set to honor his scholarship offer from the Naval Academy and follow in the tradition of family members who served their country. Instead of going that route and likely playing defensive lineman for the Navy who, according to his dad “wouldn't use his abilities”, Rip decided to head to Norman and make his own path.
"I had my heart set on going there," Ripkowski told Tramel, “but my parents talked me out of it. I didn’t want them to have to fund me being a walk-on at Oklahoma. So I initially planned on going to the Naval Academy, even though I loved Oklahoma. They changed my mind, and I think I made the correct choice."
In a game in which one of the NFL’s top three running backs will line up on the other side on Sunday, it’d be one storybook way to keep Rip’s ride rolling and steal the spotlight from Zeke and the ‘boys in Jerry World, especially for a lifelong Sooners and Eagles fan (such as yours truly). We all know Rip’s the type of guy who doesn’t seek the spotlight. He just does what’s asked of him and continues to deliver for his team and a proud Sooner Nation, rushing 34 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns and adding nine catches for 46 yards and a score so far this season in Green Bay.
In fact, after last week’s touchdown against Shep and the Giants, you’ll notice Rip about to, in typical, unselfish fashion, hand his lineman the ball to celebrate his touchdown. Luckily, his teammates love seeing the signature Rip spike as much as we do. And here’s to hopefully seeing it another time or two this weekend in Big D.
Rip with the Lambeau Leap:
Here’s a highlight vid a fan on YouTube put together on Rip’s season: