AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It has been more than 50 years since a player from the Aquinas football program has earned a shot to play in the NFL. This year, two players from the same graduating class have earned invites to NFL preseason camps.

Defensive end Will Evans, who played at Ohio University, has signed to be in camp with the New York Giants. Quarterback Liam Welch, who played at Samford University, has a rookie mini-camp invitation with the New York Jets. Evans and Welch have been good friends since their days at Aquinas.

While playing for the Fighting Irish they won three region championships and a GHSA 1A state championship in 2013. They also finished as state runner-up in 2015 and as a state semifinalist in 2014.

Current Irish head coach James Leonard coached both players during their time at Aquinas. “It’s awesome, really rewarding, knowing that their hard work payed off,” said Leonard. “It’s all them, they did it all themselves. Liam came to see me last night. I texted with Will all last night and this morning,” he added.

“Just knowing that all their hard work and their families hard work payed off for two guys that did it the way that not many kids are doing it now,” said Leonard. “Will went straight to Ohio. Liam went straight to Samford. They bide their time, they didn’t whine and transfer like kids like to do nowadays and it paid off,” added Leonard.

In 2021 Welch was named the SoCon’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. As a senior at Ohio, Evans recorded 33 total tackles including seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Former Aquinas defensive end Will Evans has signed to be in camp with the New York Giants.
Former Aquinas quarterback Liam Welch will has a rookie mini-camp invitation with the New York Jets.