Aris Briggs: From the Panthers to Real Salt Lake

Former Georgia State star, Aris Briggs, looks to earn a contract with MLS team Real Salt Lake. Photo Courtesy of GSU Athletics

For any fan of Georgia State soccer, the name Aris Briggs reigns supreme. For three straight seasons, the forward dominated the Sun Belt game in and game out. This boost of play landed Briggs in the crosshairs of many professional clubs. On Jan. 21, Real Salt Lake selected the former Georgia State forward in the third round (61st overall) of the MLS Superdraft.

“[Getting drafted] was awesome. I wasn’t expecting to get picked,’’ Briggs said. “I watched some of the first round; I didn’t see myself getting picked, so I stopped [watching the draft].”

But that call came when he least expected it.

“I went to go train, and I had just got back home and was in the shower when I got a call from [Georgia State head soccer coach Brett Surrency] that I had been drafted,” Briggs said.

Getting the professional call meant relocating from Atlanta and Center Parc Stadium to Salt Lake City across the United States.

“It was a mix of emotions coming out here, leaving my family behind. I could have never seen myself in Utah,” Briggs said. “This whole experience has been surreal coming out here.”

Transitioning from the Panthers to RSL wasn’t made any easier with new COVID-19 guidelines placing Briggs in a mandatory week quarantine on arrival.

“That first week was really tough. I was just laying in bed a lot, playing FIFA and wasting a lot of time,” Briggs said.

After his quarantine ended, Briggs got approval to join the team and officially meet his coaches, teammates and higher-ups in the club. This experience for the former Panther allowed him to feel at home almost immediately.

“The hospitality [in Utah] has been great. Everyone is really nice and welcoming. They have definitely helped make this feel a little more like home,’’ Briggs said.

In this situation, however, a contract is not guaranteed. Briggs joins a group of draftees looking to make a statement to the coaches and staff and earn their professional spot on Real Salt Lake.

“I still haven’t signed a contract. It’s a trial period right now. I knew it was a great opportunity, [to] getting my foot in the door,” Briggs said. “ I still know there is a lot to be done to officially be called a professional, but I’m excited.”

Since being drafted, he hasn’t taken a day off training to ensure he can compete with the country’s best. He knows that the transition from college to the pros will bring challenges, including training alone.

“I wasn’t able to train with the Georgia State team, so really it was a lot of stuff on my own. Going to the park and getting some drills done there with cones and lots of cardio,” Briggs said. “[I] was definitely doing a lot of work getting myself ready.”

As Briggs begins training and team practices as a young rookie, his mind envisions success.

“[My goals] are to prove myself, to prove that I belong with these guys. I know I can,” Briggs said.