AP NEWS

Aylward Lands an NFL Post

February 14, 2019
Johnny Aylward (10) hugs his father, head coach Brian Aylward, as Tewksbury High players celebrate their increasing lead over Plymouth South late in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 3 Super Bowl in 2013. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

TEWKSBURY -- Johnny Aylward graduated from Saint Anselm College in December with a degree in finance.

Growing up in Tewksbury, he received a top-notch education in all things football. His grandfather, Bob Aylward, was a longtime head coach (1974-96) and Super Bowl winner at Tewksbury High, and Johnny’s dad, Brian Aylward, took over for Bob and is the current longtime coach at Tewksbury, and is also a Super Bowl winner. Coaching is in Johnny’s genes.

There will undoubtedly be plenty of time to put that finance degree to good use. But for Johnny’s first job out of college, he has a phenomenal opportunity that will allow him to dip into that wealth of football knowledge and experience and apply it as best he can at the highest level of football in the world.

Last week, the NFL’s Houston Texans announced that Johnny was joining head coach Bill O’Brien’s staff as an offensive assistant. Johnny interned with the Texans coaching staff in the summer of 2018 and clearly made a strong impression.

“I’m excited for him,” said Brian. “He had done that internship during OTAs (organized team activities) and I think he did a really good job. We spent a lot of time trying to get him prepared for that. He grew up in a football family, so growing up in this house learning football is kind of a big part of what we do.

“He went out there and did a great job and attacked it. He’ll spill his guts for coach O’Brien, he’s committed to him and he knows he’s got a great opportunity and he’s going to give everything he has. He enjoys that learning process and he’s willing to do whatever he can to help.”

Johnny has been living in the Houston area for about three and a half weeks. Brian says he’s trying to keep things low-key and focus on his work.

Johnny played quarterback and wide receiver at Saint Anselm, appearing in 15 career games. He also was a three-year member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a Dean’s List student.

As a senior at Tewksbury, Johnny quarterbacked the Redmen to an unbeaten season and the Division 3 Super Bowl title in 2013. He was named a Sun All-Star.

Johnny did a couple of internships at Fidelity Investments during college. Going into last summer, Brian suggested Johnny do something different to put on his resume, but he was thinking along the lines of a different financial institution. Johnny mentioned that he would like to explore the coaching avenue, perhaps as a graduate assistant somewhere. Then the Texans internship presented itself.

“He’s been going 1,000 miles an hour with it since,” Brian said.

It helped that O’Brien was very familiar with the Aylward name and the family’s football acumen.

O’Brien is a local product. He grew up in Andover and attended St. John’s Prep. He and Brian were teammates at Brown University and remain good friends.

’I’ve stayed in touch with him throughout his career,” said Brian of O’Brien. “When he was with the Patriots, we’d go down and see him from time to time. When he was at Penn State, our whole staff went down for a weekend. If you’re going to get an opportunity to work with anybody at any level of football, I would say that coach O’Brien is perfect. For the intensity that he has for the game and, more importantly, the quality of person that he is, you really couldn’t be in a better situation.”

The Texans were the AFC South champs with an 11-5 record last season. They lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 21-7, in a wild-card playoff game. Johnny will be working alongside talented offensive players like quarterback Deshaun Watson and receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

“I’m nervous for him, but excited for him,” said Brian. “I have a lot of confidence in his work ethic and his willingness to learn. I guess those will be the biggest factors, and he’s doing it so far.”

Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone