In 2014 George Aston was just another Steelers fan trying to walk-on as a linebacker. One redshirt and a position switch later, he got his chance to make an impact. Instead of growing into the next Jack Lambert, he looks more like Larry Csonka coming out of Pitt. He played in 25 games from 2015-2016, scoring 19 touchdowns as a short yardage monster and devastating blocker before his junior year was derailed by ankle injuries.
In 2018 he returned with gusto, helping Pitt’s running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall rush for more than 2,300 yards. His individual numbers were down, but his prowess as blocker looked better than ever. His running back coach Andre Powell spoke very highly of him.
“We ask [Aston] to do a lot more things than we asked those other guys to do,” Powell said. “George wears a lot of hats in this offense and we put him in harm’s way a lot. You can motion him and get him involved in the passing game, you can motion him and put him in position to block.
Aston enters his first training camp with the Broncos with a bit of a reputation for his workout prowess. He still holds his high school’s record for highest bench press (425 lbs) and squad (655). The 6’ 240 lb Aston did not receive an invitation to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis but did bench press 30 times at Pitt’s Pro Day. In 2018 the Kyle Shanahan 49ers used 22 personnel (2 backs, 1 tight end and 2 receivers) more than any team in the NFL. It’s not a given the 2019 Broncos will follow suit, but the fullback looks likely to get a lot more work than recent years.
George aston ate Takeo Spikes pic.twitter.com/DnrnbC4qpA— PFTCommenter (@PFTCommenter) March 20, 2019
- Elite athlete for the position.
- Proven short yardage specialist.
- Experience as an outlet receiver who caught 45 passes during his collegiate career.
- Comes into the league with experience at both fullback and H-back
Aston looks like a sleeper as the next great Broncos fullback. He profiles as an exceptional scheme fit in the new offense and brings underrated athleticism to the position. Looking over some Pitt tape and the Panthers’ coaching staff used Aston in all of the same ways you’d expect him to contribute in the Rich Scangarello system.
- Two significant ankle injuries in 2017.
- Pitt fans modified Chuck Norris jokes for him, cult following alert.
- Broncos may need to tailor special jersey’s for his neck.
- May moonlight as up and coming boxer.
The big issue with Aston is his ankle injuries. He suffered a fractured ankle in August, 2017 and returned two months later only to sustain another injury in his second game back in action. It can’t be a huge issue if the Broncos have taken him into camp, but it bears monitoring.
George Aston’s roster status with the Broncos
He’ll compete with 4th year pro Andy Janovich for a spot on the 2019 roster. The two are similar players who offer a versatile skillset necessary for Rich Scangarello’s new offense. It remains to be seen if the new Broncos system will ask as much of the fullback as Kyle Shanahan’s, but a player who is equally capable of lead blocking, motioning into space, or aligning outside of the tackles as an H-back was so necessary to the Shanny system 49ers GM John Lynch made Kyle Juszczyk the highest paid fullback in league history by a considerable margin.
With Janovich’s playing out the last year of his contract and carrying a $761 K cap hit in 2019 the competition could be tilted in the younger, cheaper Aston’s favor. To make the roster he’ll need to prove he’s a reliable special teams contributor as well as make fill Janovich’s shoes on offense. It currently looks like an uphill battle, but a new coaching staff may favor fresh blood at the fullback position. I’d currently project the battle at 35-65 favoring the veteran this far out of camp.