Aikens was part of a feature called “OMG Confessions,” with each story accompanied by a photo.
“I planned a big boat trip,” Aikens’ story began. “It poured the whole time. My friends were not thrilled.”
It was signed, “Walt A., 25, football player, Charlotte, N.C.”
“They asked me to do a little shoot … it was a pretty cool experience,” Aikens said during the June minicamp. “I was down with it.”
Asked if modeling might be something he’d want to pursue, Aikens didn’t hesitate: “Of course, of course. That’s what I’m going for.”
As for his teammates’ reaction, Aikens said it was positive.
“They say it’s cool. A little something extra. Show my versatility.”
On the football field, where Aikens currently makes his living, versatility has never been an issue.
Since joining the Dolphins as a fourth-round pick out of Liberty University in the 2014 NFL draft, Aikens has been a valuable contributor on special teams as well as getting snaps on defense.
Aikens has earned national attention for his work on special teams, getting selected by Pro Football Focus as one of its two Pro Bowl special-teamers last year. He’s now looking to make that kind of mark on defense after an up-and-down 2015 season at safety.
“Special teams was a real strong point and I just want to continue that and continue to develop myself as an NFL safety,” Aikens said. “I feel a lot better, a lot more confident coming in. Being year three, I’ve learned the system, I know what’s going on. I’m able to understand and read routes more, so it helps out in the long run.”
Aikens will be facing a lot of competition for playing time at safety. Along with Pro Bowl selection and team co-MVP
“We’re all competing and we’re getting better every day,” Aikens said. “We’re working with each other, helping each other out and just going out there and trying to put together the best team to win.”
Aikens started three games last season, including the first two, before being replaced by Thomas in the starting lineup.
Perhaps looking for a fresh start, Aikens showed off in the offseason program a brand new blond hairstyle.
“Just a little switch-up,” he said. “Something new. New year. Had to come in with something.”
The new hair is nice, and so was the Cosmopolitan photo shoot, but ultimately it’s not what’s going to make a difference for Aikens in his quest to become a bigger factor on defense.
Aikens is hoping the added experience, and the higher degree of comfort that comes with it, will be the difference-maker. “I’m older,” said Aikens, who turned 25 on June 19. “It’s another year down, another notch on my belt. Just going in with a different mind-set. I feel wiser, I should say. (My thought is) just come in and learn everything from Coach (Vance) Joseph and just keep it moving.”