Viral sensation: former UTEP star AJ Hotchkins takes on new life


EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – AJ Hotchkins began his college football career at Oregon, then starred for one season at UTEP as a graduate transfer in 2018.

Life has thrown him a few curveballs since his college playing days ended, but lately he’s made a new life for himself in a way he never considered before.

The last three years have brought plenty of ups and downs, but that journey has Hotchkins in the best place he’s ever been.

“My goal is honestly just to inspire,” he says.

The leading tackler in Conference USA in 2018, his NFL dream didn’t pan out; so, he spent the last two seasons as a defensive assistant coach for UTEP. Unfortunately, that ended as well, as Hotchkins was let go due to the university’s COVID-19 budget cuts.

However, he’s turned that negative into a positive.

“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Hotchkins said. “When you lose you have two options: either you can run, or you can battle back and conquer your adversity.”

Conquer he has; recently, he’s taken on a new life as a viral TikTok superstar.

Hotchkins began posting his workouts to TikTok last month; six weeks later, he has over 180,000 followers and more than 1.5 million views.

“Last year I would’ve though I was crazy for doing this. There’s no way I would’ve thought I’d be a social media influencer,” he said. “I’m just being myself and posting it on social media, so I’m not doing anything different. I feel like people gravitate to that energy because they can feel that I’m being genuine. I’m being myself, being goofy.”

His page resonates enough that Hotchkins has already monetized his platform. He drives clients to his website and consults with them there.

“I know that I like to teach and coach, I needed the platform to do it, and I’ve created myself through my TikTok,” Hotchkins said.

That’s not it; Hotchkins is finally getting his chance at playing pro football. He’s signed with Edmonton out of the Canadian Football League and will head to training camp later this year.

“This is just an opportunity to showcase what I’ve been doing the last two years, it’s been a lot of work and I’ve done a lot,” he said.

No matter what happens for Hotchkins’ career from here, he’s ready for whatever comes his way.

“The worst thing that can happen is that I lose again, and I’ve already lost. I just keep trying to win,” Hotchkins said.

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