Aaron Corp has climbed a few ladders in his football career. After ascending as high as he could as a player, he’s now on the rise as a college coach.
“I’ve got ambitions to take this as far as I can go,” he said last week from his football office at Norfolk State University in Virginia, where he’s in his first season as quarterbacks coach.
Corp created his own chapter in Orange County high school football lore. As an undersized 15-year-old sophomore at Orange Lutheran in the fall of 2004, he stepped in for injured star quarterback Seth Blackamore in the fourth game of the season and calmly led the Lancers to 10 consecutive victories, the last capturing the program’s first CIF-SS title.
His growth over the next two years earned him a scholarship to USC, and Corp flirted with becoming the full-time starter before an untimely injury opened the door for Mater Dei grad Matt Barkley to begin his four-year reign as the Trojans’ starting quarterback.
Corp didn’t throw in the towel, however, transferring back East to Richmond, where he started the next two seasons for the Spiders. He even put his name in the NCAA record books before he was through, completing 31 of 34 passes in a loss at Towson, which remains the top single-game completion percentage for an FCS game.
Although his playing career ended after 18 months of trying to break into the NFL, Corp’s attraction to the football field did not. Upon retirement, his first phone call went to Latrell Scott, the head coach during his first season at Richmond who had moved on to Virginia State. Scott just happened to have an opening for a quarterbacks coach.
After finishing 10-3 last season and winning a conference title, Scott was hired at Norfolk State last winter and invited Corp to join him.
“Luckily, I’m in a good position now,” Corp says. “Even though [Norfolk State] is a smaller Division I school, I’m actually coaching on the field, and so I’m learning a lot and gaining good experience at the same time.”
Even though his maturity level and responsibilities are night and day compared to high school, Corp still carries with him the primary philosophy espoused by Jim Kunau, his head coach at Orange Lutheran.
The biggest thing that I took away from that was giving yourself up for something that’s greater than you,” Corp says. “That’s something that he always preached and that’s something I’ve tried to take with me wherever I’ve gone. It’s a team effort and it’s just not about you.”
And Corp’s not talking about personal statistics, such as throwing fewer touchdown passes because the team has such a powerful run game. For him, it’s about spending extra time in the film room, or studying in the library, or just making it to class on time because, as Corp has seen during his playing career, “one false step, one false move that you may do selfishly, can affect the team in a negative way.”
And no player is more in the spotlight than a quarterback. That’s why Corp regularly reminds his athletes of potential pitfalls.
“There are bigger things at stake than just your personal ambitions,” he says. “I was lucky enough to be taught that mindset when I was 16 years old and it’s helped me playing and now coaching.”