UMass lands productive Fla. dual-threat AJ Hairston


The wait is over for AJ Hairston.

The breakout sophomore and junior seasons the big, dual-threat quarterback had at Coconut Creek (Fla.) Monarch High School led to an up-and-down spring on the recruiting scene, but he came off the board late Friday night.

The south Floridian is headed to play for Don Brown and UMass, Hairston announced on the tail-end of an unofficial visit to the program Friday night.

“The effort, I feel like, the coaches showed me that they wanted me and they have the right thing for me to study when I get there,” he told Rivals of the early decision. “It just felt like the right thing to do to call it home.

“We came up here on Thursday, spent Thursday and Friday here. Talked to the coaches and toured the place. Then met with the head coach (Brown) and committed.”

Hairston put up monster numbers over the last two seasons, registering more than 6,000 yards and 65 touchdowns in just 20 games for the MHS Knights. He has a multi-sport background and many in south Florida believe his best football is to come much later in his development.

Brown and offensive coordinator Steve Casula saw enough of the Floridian to offer on May 6. Hairston tripped to Western Michigan unofficially before planning the UMass visit. The fit in Amherst was a big part of the commitment plan for Hariston, able to make the unofficial visit with family by his side.

“When we were talking to the OC (Casula), he made a slideshow that had my film mixed with their offense that they have ran and showed the same type of throws,” Hairston said.

Hairston will return to UMass later this year, likely at the end of the cycle, for his official visit. The non-football element of campus helped to reinforce the ideal first impression of his next stop, however.

“I liked how we got to see all the academic advisors that would help me when I get there,” he said. “They have tremendous amount of help for academics. I also liked the area of the campus the football facility is at. It’s separate from all the other sports.”

The rising-senior, and reigning Sun Sentinel Broward County 4M-3M offensive player of the year, joins Tanner Burlingame on the UMass verbal commitment list for the 2024 cycle.



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