Some things just have to be experienced to be understood. In the case of five star tight end Aaron Hernandez, his official visit to The Swamp last Saturday when the Florida Gators tarred and feathered their visitors from UCF was an experience never to be forgotten. Hernandez will be the first to tell you that they just don’t do football in the Northeast like they do in the south.
“It was amazing … I couldn’t even breathe … it was just amazing,” said Hernandez, the top rated tight end in America by Scout.com and a Florida commitment. He had been waiting with great anticipation to see what The Swamp was like for a real game ever since he saw a half-filled stadium in Gainesville last April when he was there for the Orange and Blue scrimmage.
The trip to Gainesville was more than just an official visit for Hernandez. It was a mission to show his mother that the University of Florida is indeed the best place for him to play college football. Because he was previously committed to UConn where his brother is the starting quarterback, Gator fans have been fretting that he might waver under pressure from family and friends. According to Aaron, mom was very impressed with Florida and despite the recent tragic loss of his dad, she believes this is a good place for her son.
“My mom, my cousin and my offensive coordinator came with me,” he said. “My mom was excited and loved it. She got all emotional at the game. She thought it was amazing how the stadium was and had never seen anything like it. She thought how my father would have been happy. She loved it, the coaches and the coaches’ wives. She just loved it down there.”
The Bristol (CT) Central tight end explained what the pressure he is getting back home from family, friends, UConn alums and fans. The UConn staff that coaches his brother also continues to try to persuade him to make his college home in nearby Storrs.
“I was close to them and obviously they want me to stay in state,” he said. “Everyone is pushing for me to stay in state. It’s like a kid in Florida they want him to go to Florida, like Tim Tebow. I have to do what is best for me and that is to go down south.”
And down south the more he saw of the University of Florida the more he liked the choice he has made. There were no disappointments whatsoever.
“I thought the visit was great,” he said. “It’s always great and I love to go down there. The coaches always make me feel at home. I met all the players and they are all great. I loved the intensity, the speeches before the games and going out into The Swamp was awesome, also.
“All the coaches are honest and just tell you what they have to tell you. They don’t B.S. or anything. I just love how they are, the kind of people they are. It’s hard to say but they are always smiling and always happy. On the other side, in football, they are really intense in their speeches before the game. Everything about them is great. They tell you straight up there are going to be hard times when I am going to be yelling at you and times when I am not yelling at you.”
Hernandez also met up with some future teammates that were also visiting for the game. A lot of Gator commitments were there and he is starting to like the way this recruiting class is shaping up.
“I met Cameron Newton (quarterback from Atlanta, Gator commit) … I had been talking to him on the phone for a while anyways,” he said. “I talked to Chris Rainey, the Pouncey twins, and Deonte Thompson. I talked to a lot of players down there. I think we are going to have another number one class coming in. If not number one, it should be.”
Freshman quarterback Tim Tebow was Hernandez’s host for the weekend. He got to know Tebow well and it looks like the two of them will be spending plenty of time together in the future, both on and off the field.
“I am going to room with Tim,” said Hernandez. “He was my host for the weekend. That is the plan so far. He is the quarterback and I will be catching balls. He loves to work hard and I love to work, too. He is very outgoing and just a great kid. He is just a hard worker and hopefully I can work hard with him.”
Hernandez and Tebow share a real passion for good old-fashioned competition. Tebow can’t get enough hard work and Hernandez promises that he will be one of the hardest workers in the class.
“I just love to run routes and do anything I can to make a team win,” he said. “Hopefully I can get down there and catch some balls, block for people and do whatever they want me to do.”
Connecticut high school football doesn’t start their regular season until this Friday. With school already in session for the last two weeks, Hernandez is chomping at the bit to get started.