Junior Aumavae

Junior Aumavae who was cut in 2010 from the Dallas Cowboy's training camp has signed a deal with the New York Jets.

PALMER — Three months ago, Junior Aumavae was working as a corrections officer in Palmer. Today, the former Palmer High football standout is a New York Jet.

Aumavae, a 2004 graduate of Palmer High School, has signed a three-year deal with the National Football League franchise.

“I’m just very blessed and fortunate. They saw potential and decided to sign me,” Aumavae said by cellphone from his home in Green Bay, Wisc., Saturday afternoon. “I’m really looking forward to taking full advantage of the opportunity.”

This is not Aumavae’s first venture in the NFL. Aumavae, a two-time all-state offensive and defensive lineman who later starred at Division II Western Washington and Minnesota State-Mankato, spent a portion of the 2010 offseason with the Dallas Cowboys, but was released before the preseason.

Jets officials contacted Aumavae’s agent last week, and he flew to New York for a workout. Aumavae said Jets head coach Rex Ryan administered his workout.

“It was a great workout. The workout went awesome,” Aumavae said. “I did everything they asked of me.”

Aumavae, seeing his professional football career resurrected, credits his trainer, Scotty Smith of the Green Bay-based Don Beebe’s House of Speed, for playing a major role in Aumavae’s return to the NFL.

“I’ve been training in Green Bay, 1-on-1 with Scotty Smith the last couple of months. Working with him has really helped me,” Aumavae said. “It’s just a blessing to have him part of my journey back to the NFL. It’s a blessing to have him part of my journey in the NFL. Having this opportunity with the Jets is amazing.”

With the help of Smith, Aumavae, 26, said he’s been able to reshape himself physically. Aumavae had tipped the scale at 334 pounds, but the defensive tackle now weighs in about 305.

The lighter weight and improved speed and quickness could help Aumavae find a role on a Jets team that’s in search of help along its three-man defensive front. According to an analysis of the Jets defensive line published by ESPNnewyork.com recently, New York’s top run-stuffer, defensive tackle Mike DeVito, is a free agent. Starting nose tackle Sione Po’uha has battled a back injury.

Aumavae said regardless of what is going on at his position, he is focused on taking advantage of his opportunity.

 “Having this opportunity with the Jets is amazing. I have to go out there and prove myself,” Aumavae said. “I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been. I’m going in there basically with the mindset that I’ve got a lot to prove.”

Earlier in February, Aumavae had signed with the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League. Aumavae said his deal with the professional indoor team allowed him to continue to pursue opportunities in the NFL.

“Tampa Bay is a great organization. I’m very thankful they gave me an opportunity. They gave me an opportunity to play if things did not work out in the NFL,” Aumavae said.

Aumavae said his trainer, Smith, and his agent, J.R. Rickert, provided a great support system as he worked back to the NFL.

Earlier this year, Aumavae had a workout with the Green Bay Packers. He caught the attention of the Packers while playing for an Indoor Football League franchise, the Blizzard, in Green Bay. Following his first season with the Green Bay Blizzard, Aumavae was named the defensive MVP for the Blizzard, who boasted the top-ranked defense in the IFL. Aumavae also has professional indoor football experience with the Fairbanks Grizzlies.

Aumavae’s workout with the Packers led him to Smith and Don Beebe’s House of Speed.

“The Packers had some interest, they saw things they liked, but suggested he come over and get a little more speed and quickness,” Smith said by phone from Green Bay Saturday evening. “He committed to coming over and training five days a week.”

Smith said he felt Aumavae was the type of player who wanted to put in the extra effort.

“He’s a very personable guy. You could tell when he sat down with me for the first time he truly wanted to get back to the NFL after being with the Cowboys,” Smith said. “You see a lot of young guys come in, and they don’t always have that determined look on their face. Since they very first meeting, he was very humble and knew he had to work to get back there.”

Since Aumavae met Smith, there has been rapid improvement, Smith said.

“It’s been fantastic. He’s dropped close to 25 pounds,” Smith said. “That’s probably the big thing. It’s really, really helped his speed.”

Smith said that in addition to speed training, the focus with Aumavae has been on balance, positioning and movement skills.

Aumavae will participate in scheduled offseason activities with the Jets. Until then, Aumavae said he’ll continue training.

“Training, staying in real good shape,” Aumavae said.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at sports@frontiersman.com.

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