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Now that Aaron Hernandez’s tragic story has an ending Bryce Petty Jersey Elite , many are trying to understand the influences and choices that led to his ruin. The MMQB asked three journalists who covered the fallen star at different stages of his football career to share their impressions and memories of Hernandez, on and off the field.

Shawn Courchesne, formerly of the Hartford Courant, covered Hernandez as a high school phenom at Bristol (Conn.) Central and top recruit of the University of Connecticut, and later University of Florida. While working for the Orlando Sentinel, Jeremy Fowler covered Hernandez during the tight end’s time with the Florida Gators. And Ian Rapoport, working for the Boston Herald, covered Hernandez as a New England Patriots rising star.

KAHLER: What was your first impression of Aaron Hernandez?

Article continues below ...
COURCHESNE: I was the UConn football beat reporter for the Hartford Courant when Aaron was in high school. D.J. Hernandez, Aaron’s older brother, was one of the quarterbacks on the roster for the UConn football team and Aaron had committed to UConn when he was a sophomore in high school because of the family history there. His father had gone there and D.J. was there, it was kind of the family thing to do. As a sophomore Wholesale Martinas Rankin Jersey , everyone knew Aaron was talented, but he wasn’t at that level yet where he was being pursued by the biggest of the bigs, so he had committed to UConn early. As the beat reporter covering the team, he was obviously on my radar. He would show up to practice more often than you would see any typical recruit or commitment show up, because his brother was on the team and he lived less than an hour from campus. So you got to know Aaron just from him being on campus all the time. He was like any typical 15- or 16-year-old kid, goofing off, laughing, joking. He had a slight arrogance about him, but I think any kid who has been recognized as one of the best football players in the state is going to have that. And also he carried some celebrity status around the UConn football team because he was a commitment and because his brother was a quarterback on the roster. He and his brother had polar opposite personalities. D.J. was very quiet, all business, very focused. Aaron was more jovial and outgoing.

FOWLER: I was the Florida football beat writer for the Orlando Sentinel during the 2008 and 2009 seasons when Aaron was a sophomore and junior. Most of my interactions with Aaron were in controlled environments and Florida had an interview set-up where players were pretty well-protected Wholesale Barkevious Mingo Jersey , as they are at a lot of college programs. The times I spoke to him were usually in big groups and everything was fairly sanitized as far as how the interview process went. It was just surface talk about the team. He was generally pretty mild-mannered and I found him to be a pretty good quote. He had some good insight in football-related matters. He was a smart guy in that regard. Beyond that, it was hard to get to know him because you didn’t have access to him. You had to go by reputation or what you saw on the field, which were always pretty pleasant.

RAPOPORT: I was the Patriots beat writer for the Boston Herald when Hernandez was drafted in 2010. He was definitely very quiet, he took a while to come out of this shell. I don’t know about my first memory, but my first couple were a really reserved and quiet type of guy who seemed uncomfortable with a lot of the spotlight. His locker was right next to [Rob] Gronkowski, two rookies, buddies, came into the team together and paired together a lot. They both got a lot of publicity and interview requests and I always remember Hernandez kind of being uncomfortable with that. He was fine, and usually willing to do something but definitely kind of shy.

KAHLER: What was Hernandez like as a player?

COURCHESNE: He was the biggest player in the state at that time. You could see that he was a beast in high school, especially in Connecticut, where you don’t have a lot of superstar kids. He was literally head and shoulders above all the competition on the field. It seemed unfair at times when you saw some of the highlights.

FOWLER: Florida had a tight end named Cornelius Ingram who was a good player and got drafted in the NFL Richard Rodgers Jersey Elite , but he had a huge knee injury, and when Aaron came into the lineup they didn’t miss a beat and were probably better off. He moved like a running back or a wide receiver from the tight end spot, so he was perfect for Urban Meyer’s offense. He just slithered through tacklers and had a gracefulness about him in the college game that certainly translated into why he did so well on the field in New England.


RAPOPORT: Obviously he was a tight end, but he looked like a receiver and he moved like a receiver and I just remember him making guys fall down. Cutting, making guys whiff, and he kind of waved them by him, really like a basketball player. I had conversations with him about what he was like as a basketball player because that is what it looked like to me. He would stutter step or really just make guys fall down. I had never really seen anything like that, especially from a tight end, so I was kind of intrigued. I always remember his end zone celebrations. I would always take very careful notes and try to guess what it was. There was the unlock the safe, take the money out of the safe, count it Wholesale Justin Jones Jersey , make it rain. At the time that was all cute and funny. When I think of him, and I think of him as a football player, I think of making guys miss and I think of his very creative end zone celebrations.

KAHLER: Hernandez’s father, Dennis, died when he was just a junior in high school. Shawn, what impact do you think that. Authentic Womens Patrick Omameh Jersey , http://www.sndpic.com//nike_nfl_jer...]kings/mike-hughes-jersey]Authentic Womens Mike Hughes Jersey , Authentic Womens J'Mon Moore Jersey , Authentic Womens Fred Warner Jersey ,
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