Strengths & Weaknesses
“His strength in his size,” Wales said. “His knowledge of the game, already, at this young age and also his understanding of what it takes to become that top tier athlete, top tier tight end that he wants to be.
“If I was going to highlight a weakness, I wouldn’t call it a weakness. I would call it something to improve on. Something he’s already good at but can get better to better himself. I would probably say, his dedication. Everybody can put in a little more time. But he’s going to come into that.”
Hackett as a Pass Catcher
“One thing we do right now with him is utilize him big time in the passing game,” Wales said. “He can line up in the slot, he can line up as a fullback and motion out. He’s a big body, 230-pounds or something like that and 6-foot-3.5, 6-4. We can create a mismatch with a linebacker outside or insider.
“He’s a beautiful target in the middle. He’s just a big guy. You throw it to him in traffic and he’s going to come down with it. That’s what any school would look for, nowadays, in a tight end.”
Hackett as a Blocker
“One thing that’s great about this kid is that he’s extremely smart,” Wales said. “He has offers from Harvard and a bunch of other Ivy League (schools). Syracuse is no slouch in academics. The kid is brilliant.
“In all honesty, when I was working with him one-on-one, we were working on technique. He had already registered that the tight end position is all about leverage. And the path that you take to out leverage the man that you’re blocking.
“He’s excelled at that stuff. He is one nasty, tough kid. He’ll come limping to the sideline and looks like he can barely even walk. But when he’s on the field, it doesn’t even bother him, he’s murdering people. He loves the contact part of the game. Putting his nose in there, blocking down on power, going to that middle linebacker, he embraces it.
“When I was his age, I was a little timid at it. I had to condition myself to be that tough, crazy guy. He’s already got it.”
How Hackett Fits at Syracuse
“What we did here at Venice High School this past year, what we did this summer and just finished putting in, was the no huddle offense,” Wales said. “It’s very, very similar to what Dino Babers is going to run up at Syracuse right now.
“Obviously not to the extreme as he’s going to have his offense. But something very simple where we’re never huddling up, we’re always moving around, we’re getting plays in from the sideline and we’re processing.
“What he’s going to do here would set him up very well to fill a spot right off the bat at Syracuse, I think.”
Having Hackett Commit to Wales' Former School
“One thing I learned from going through the process was that you want to take in everybody’s perspective,” Wales said. “What they think, you want to listen to their advice. But at the end of the day, it’s your decision.
“I’ve been honest with the guy from day one. That’s what somebody who’s real to another person would do. I told him the positives and the negatives. The only negative I could come up with is that it’s cold as sin up there. That’s the only negative and he has no issue with that at all.
“It’s a great academic school, football is on the rise. You can’t ask for much more than that. It’s a very similar situation to when I was being recruited by Syracuse. They weren’t too hot, we got there and we started to get a little bit better.
“I hope Dino Babers can take it to the next level.
“I think it would be very special. It would mean a lot to me, but it’s not something that I would be living my life on. I would just be happy for Aaron. It would be good for Aaron.”