Soul's Wascha travels rare path to pro football

Matt Leon
July 18, 2018 - 10:53 am
Wide receiver Aaron Wascha has caught 21 touchdown passes this season for the Philadelphia Soul.

Vernon Ray

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Playing wide receiver at a high level in the Arena Football League is hard.

Doing so without having played college football is even harder.

But the Philadelphia Soul's Aaron Wascha is making it look pretty easy.

Wascha burst onto the scene here in 2018 taking full advantage when injuries opened the door for him playing a big role on offense. He finished with 49 catches for 668 yards and 21 touchdowns during the regular season. He also scored a rushing touchdown.  He added five more receptions for 81 yards in the opening leg of the Soul's home-and-home playoff series with Baltimore on Sunday.

"Expected to be a role player and I was just waiting my opportunity," Wascha said, "working hard in practice and when I got my opportunity I took full advantage and the training took over. The hours of practice, the hours in the gym, it just took over."

Wascha did play football in high school in Michigan, but not during his time at Michigan State.

"Coming out of high school, I guess you could call me a late bloomer," he said. "I was probably 5'11", a twig. I got into college, grew a little bit, got up to 6'3", came out of college, became a strength and conditioning coach. So I was around football players all the time, I was training. Basically I think being around football, I was helping coach the football team where I worked, and I missed it. I wanted to get back to it and I had a lot of people seeing my athleticism and encouraging me to get back to it. So I would say it was probably 2014 when I graduated, I made a goal to play football again and it just took over my life."

The road back started in 2016 when he played with the Oakland County Racers in the Rivals Professional Football League, a semi-pro league in Michigan, and he led the league in receiving yards and touchdowns. That had him looking to take the next step, and it came in the direction of Philadelphia.

"My high school mentor, he was actually my high school basketball coach, he knew [former Eagles offensive lineman] Jon Runyan, played basketball with him in high school," Wascha says. "So he reached out to Jon Runyan. Jon Runyan in turn reached out to [Soul majority owner] Ron Jaworski. We found out about five days before that there was an open tryout in Philadelphia, we drove out, and I performed well."

Wascha's first season with the Soul in 2017 never really got started because of a hamstring injury. But 2018 has been something special. This week he was named Second Team All-Arena.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It's been a good ride and met a lot of great teammates and great people, and I'm excited for years to come."

Wascha and the Soul play the final leg of that series with Baltimore on Friday night in Maryland. The Soul need to outscore the Brigade by at least thirteen points to advance to the ArenaBowl.

Follow Matt on Twitter @Mattleon1060