Garrett Ware has been eyeing a commitment to Stetson for much of the winter and on Sunday he made it official. The Manatee linebacker and tight end verbally committed to the Football Championship Subdivision during an official visit in DeLand.
Ware was a first-team All-Area selection at linebacker this fall after leading the Hurricanes with 112 tackles. The senior also recorded one sack, forced one fumble and grabbed one interception. The Hatters are recruiting Ware as a middle linebacker.
“I had a great time, got to meet all the coaches, not just my recruiting coordinator and my position coach, but all the other coaches and they’re all just really great people,” Ware said of his visit. “I felt great about Stetson University as a whole and I thought it’d be a great fit for me.”
Ware ultimately chose the Hatters over Valparaiso, another FCS program. He visited Stetson for a pair of games during the fall and then had an in-home visit from Hatters head coach Roger Hughes a few weeks ago. On his official visit, Ware also got a chance to meet with defensive coordinator Brian Young and get an idea of his future with the program.
Ware doesn’t expect to immediately step in as a starting linebacker, but said he could get on the travel bus immediately as a long snapper. Ware took over as the Canes’ long snapper this fall following the graduation of Andrew Zink, who started as a true freshman at South Alabama. Ware, however, said Stetson still sees him as a linebacker long-term.
The role Ware would eventually play on the Hatters’ defense would be familiar, too. Stetson runs a 3-3-5 defense similar to Manatee’s and Ware would get to play the same role in the middle of the field he has in Bradenton.
“They see me maybe starting (at long snapper) as a freshman, maybe possibly getting on the travel squad sooner,” Ware said. “If I could start there and eventually, after a season or two, they want me to play middle linebacker.”
Ware is the second Hurricane to make a college commitment leading up National Signing Day on Feb. 1 and also the second to commit to the Hatters. Quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni, a second-team All-Area selection the past two seasons, verbally committed to Stetson last month.
Ware said Colagiovanni didn’t actively recruit the 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker, but, “he definitely wanted me to go there.”
“It’s going to be fantastic,” Ware said. “It’s always great when you’re going into something new to have someone to kind of experience it with, who’s going on the same journey you are. We’ve always been hard workers and we’ve worked pretty hard to get where we are right now and overcame quite a few things. It’s good to have a pretty good friend of yours who you’ve been playing football with for the last four years to be able to extend it and play another four with him.”
Ware won’t be able to make his commitment official until Feb. 1, when Manatee High School will host a signing ceremony for Ware, Colagiovanni and any other seniors who will go on to play at the next level. With Ware’s commitment coming so late in the process, he’s all but guaranteed to sign there next month.
Said Ware: “I’d be pretty surprised if I went somewhere else.”