Eleven years ago, he dazzled as a quarterback at Argyle High School. The Yankees then offered him an alleged seven-figure signing bonus and he left for Florida.
Denton, Texas – Pops. grandfather Sir. Old man
Those are some cute nicknames given by teammates University of North Texas Quarterback Austin Aune starts.
Maybe because he has a beard. Maybe because he’s married to his high school sweetheart. Probably because he is the father of an 8-month-old daughter.
Or perhaps because he is the oldest quarterback to play Division I college football in the modern era.
Eleven years ago, Aune dazzled as a senior quarterback at Argyle High School. He led the Eagles to the 2011 Class 3A Division II state championship game at AT&T Stadium, but lost to Wimberley.
Despite playing for a lower classification school, Aune received considerable interest from Division I college football programs.
The three-star recruit is committed to TCU and head coach Gary Patterson — but on one condition: He can play for the baseball team in the spring.
Aune was a star shortstop for the Eagles and fielded some pro interest coming from high school.
Patterson knew MLB could turn his recruits away, but the Horned Frogs welcomed the two-sport athlete.
Of course, in June 2012, the New York Yankees selected Aune in the second round (89th overall) of the MLB Draft.
The Yankees reportedly offered him a seven-figure signing bonus and sent the Argyll native to Florida to join their farm system. Football dreams will have to wait.
“The steps along the way and the experiences along the way were worth it,” said Aune, sitting in the UNT team meeting room.
Aune spent six years in the Yankees minor league system and played with some of the game’s greatest players.
“Couples Locker was Aaron Judge below me,” Aune recalled. “Some guys who are on the big league rosters now, I knew then.”
However, Aune never made it to the big leagues. He was released by the Yankees in 2017.
So, at age 25, the baseball player decided to give football the old college try.
After a brief stint in Arkansas, Aune transferred to UNT in 2018, where he worked his way up to the opening role.
“It’s not like I’m just walking through the locker room and they’re like, ‘There’s that old man in there,'” he smiled. “Like, I’m still one of the walking dudes.”
That friend turned 29 on September 6.
According to research from UNT, Aune is the oldest quarterback to play Division I college football in the modern era.
(If someone older has a record, the WFAA and UNT would like to know!)
“Of course every game is some sort of trash-talking about how old I am,” Aune admitted. “Like, ‘Ah man, you’re like 32 years old.’ I’m like, ‘Wow, only 29 men.'”
His teammates got jokes too.
“They call me Dad,” said Aune.
Well, that last one actually applies.
Aune and his wife Kristin have an 8-month-old daughter, Palmer.
“Becoming a father is a really great opportunity, and it’s been the best eight months I’ve ever had,” said Aune, who credits Palmer with sleeping through the night, which also helps her relax.
Anu is a junior. He has one more year of eligibility and can play the next year if he wants to – at age 30.
“My wife is super supportive, so when I told her it was my last year, she said ‘Okay, it’s your last year,'” she laughed.
The thing is, he wants to be a pro again.
“I want to try going to the NFL,” Aune said.
Aune isn’t the first quarterback to play college football in his late 20s—and he also won’t be the first to make it to the NFL.
Brandon Weiden, another former Yankees minor leaguer who later became Oklahoma State quarterback, was ranked 22nd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft at age 28.
Chris Vanke, a former Toronto Blue Jays minor leaguer, became a Florida State quarterback, won the Heisman Trophy in 2000 at age 28 (the oldest Heisman winner of all time), and also played in the NFL after being a fourth-round pick.
Naturally, Aun finds inspiration in his stories—just as he does in the story of Tom Brady, the legendary, now-45-year-old quarterback who’s hard-pressed for his father’s time.
Aune likes to use the line: “Yeah, I’m throwing guys 10 years younger than me. But Brady is throwing guys 20 years younger than him.”
“He keeps my hope alive,” Aune admitted. “The longer he plays, the better chance I have of telling scouts, ‘I know he’s not normal, but there’s a slight chance.
What about playing for your hometown team?
After all, the Dallas Cowboys always seem to be in the market for another third-string quarterback.
“I’ll leave tomorrow, if they call me,” Aune insisted. “They can call me. I’m old enough.”
In fact, Aune will even be the oldest quarterback on the Cowboys roster.