One of the top tight ends in the South has committed to the Syracuse Orange. Venice (Fla.) Senior High tight end Aaron Hackett committed during an unofficial visit. He becomes the 16th member of Syracuse's 2017 class.
"I got on campus today and fell in love with the facilities," Hackett told CuseNation.com. "Just the area around the campus is amazing. I really do believe everything that coach Babers is saying. The system he's put in, I really do believe it's going to work. It's something I want to be a part of."
Syracuse targeted Hackett early on and continued to recruit him hard throughout the cycle. His size, length and intelligence were key factors in their desire to land the 6-foot-3 tight end. Interestingly, his position coach at Venice Senior High is former Orange tight end Beckett Wales.
That connection, however, was not the deciding factor in his recruitment. Rather, developing a strong relationship with the Syracuse coaches proved paramount.
"It was huge," Hackett said. "Ultimately, those are the people I'm going to spend a lot of my time with for the next four or five years. Seeing that they're genuinely a good group of guys who care about their players. They care about getting a good education and they care about winning football games, too."
Also on the Syracuse campus were Hackett's brother and father, who signed off on SU as the landing spot.
"They completely agreed with what I said," Hackett said. "They really did believe that it's a great fit for me. Both athletically and academically. They think it's somewhere I'll be able to fit in quite well. They really did appreciate coach Babers' staff taking such good care of me. They were really prepared for me on the visit. So that means a lot."
When Hackett told the Syracuse coaches of his decision, it was with head coach Dino Babers and assistant Reno Ferri present. He said both coaches were "fired up" when he told them he wanted to join the program.
Hackett also held offers from Wake Forest, South Florida, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Marshall, Minnesota and several others. He is the first tight end in Syracuse's 2017 class.
Scout's evaluation of Hackett breaks him down as follows.
"Hackett is a well-rounded tight end prospect that's more than willing to get his nose dirty in the trenches, where he's a tenacious blocker. Hackett is also a reliable target in the passing game that flashes good concentration when working in congested areas. He's an intriguing option in the red zone that's shown good body control as well. Overall speed and elusiveness after the catch are areas of improvement."
You can watch Hackett's junior highlights in the video at the top of the page.