Aaron Hester grew up going to Florida State games, learning about football from his dad, Ron, who played at FSU from 1978-81.
“It was a dream come true,” Hester said. “I grew up a Florida State kid, went to all the games, I don’t even know how many games I went to in the 2013 season when they won the championship. And on Signing Day, it was like, ‘I finally did it.’ My dad was happy, of course. It was a surreal moment for me and my family.”
Aaron grew up hearing about FSU. The mat drills his dad took part in under coach Bobby Bowden. He grew up around the program, saying he knew Odell Haggins since he was little (they would text often). Hester made an early commitment to FSU in January 2021, setting aside a large number of offers from schools around the Southeast but picking the Seminoles in a decision he called a no-brainer.
Ron Hester had 192 tackles as a linebacker and was a key part of FSU’s defenses in 1980 and ’81. Aaron Hester (who is 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds) is listed by FSU as a defensive end but could factor in at linebacker, too.
“I feel like I’ll primarily be used at defensive end and some outside linebacker,” Hester said. “This strength and conditioning program is crazy. I’ve already put on about 10 pounds of muscle. And I’m continuing to develop, which is great.”
Hester recorded 46 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss with 5.0 sacks, 26 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles as a senior at Jacksonville (Fla.) Fletcher as a senior in 2021. He thought it was critical to enroll early to get a jump on life and college football, especially beginning the offseason strength and conditioning program.
“I feel like it gives you an advantage rather than going in the summer. It’s better to me,” Hester said. “It’s really training to be an athlete. It helps us play on the field. It’s not just body building. It’s running, it’s power cleans. It’s all the stuff that’ll help you be a better athlete. Be more explosive. Faster cuts. So I feel like that’s real important.”
Hester grew up around FSU and is now a part of the program each day. He recalled some of the players he grew up watching nearly a decade ago and now is wearing garnet and gold.
“Probably Jameis (Winston), Lamarcus Joyner,” Hester said. “That whole 2013 team. DeMarcus Walker is actually from my city, from Jacksonville. Even though he was from my rival school, I looked up to him a lot. I want to be like him, probably be even better.”
Hester said it while laughing. But the kid with big dreams has grown up and following a familiar family path at FSU.