Brandon Aiyuk’s outstanding athleticism was on full display in the 49ers’ 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, never more so than on an electrifying 38-yard touchdown “run” (Aiyuk caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage from quarterback Nick Mullens) in which he hurdled Eagles safety Marcus Epps as he crossed the goal line.
Those who have followed Aiyuk’s career from his college days weren’t surprised by Aiyuk’s amazing leaping ability, as his remarkable jump over a teammate during a junior college practice at Sierra College in Rocklin had 49ers Twitter buzzing after the wideout was drafted in the first round of April’s draft. But Aiyuk also honed his ability to ascend over would-be tacklers during his two seasons at Arizona State, where he and his teammates have developed a bit of a reputation for hurdles in the open field.
Aiyuk’s QB for his first season at ASU was Manny Wilkins, who has amassed an entire catalog of hurdles very similar to Aiyuk’s.
Even during his brief stint with the Green Bay Packers in the NFL, Wilkins couldn't help but bring the hurdles to Lambeau Field.
Wilkins likely would have led the NCAA in hurdle attempts if that was a recorded stat, and his fellow skill players seemed to feed off their QB, and tried to do the same as you can see in the examples below.
Former ASU running back and Arizona Cardinals practice squad player Eno Benjamin certainly enjoyed himself a hurdle or two for the Sun Devils.
Even going back to well before Aiyuk, Wilkins or Benjamin arrived at ASU, Cameron Marshall was another tailback who chose to take the high road over an oncoming defender.
The student section at ASU even anointed itself “Hurdle U” during Aiyuk’s final season there.
A player with Aiyuk’s talent in the open field is ideal for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and through three games (Aiyuk missed the 49ers’ opener in Week 1 with a hamstring injury) we’re already seeing how his speed can impact an NFL game.