Jonathan “D.J.” Hernandez, a former Bristol Central and UConn star who briefly coached at Southington, has been named the next coach at Ledyard, the school announced in a statement Friday afternoon. The story was first reported by The Day of New London’s Mike DiMauro.
Hernandez takes over for Mark Farnsworth, who coached the team on an interim basis last season following former coach Jim Buonocore’s promotion to assistant principal and athletic director.
Hernandez, who had been living in Texas, is moving back to Connecticut with his wife and child, The Day reported.
“I look forward to the opportunity to work closely with Jonathan in his new position and I also look forward to the continued success of Ledyard football under his guidance,” Buonocore told The Day.
Hernandez was the Gatorade state player of the year at Bristol Central who played quarterback and was a two-year captain UConn from 2004-2008. He had been a head coach for the Carinthian Black Lions in Austria and then coached at Southington for one year in 2010.
He was dismissed after a 7-3 season which saw him suspended a game for using an opponent’s play wristband against Manchester. Hernandez admitted he used it for four plays and took full responsibility for the incident.
He followed his stint at Southington with assistant coaching jobs at Brown and Iowa State. He had also been a graduate assistant at the University of Miami.
Hernandez holds a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and a masters degree in school counseling from UConn.
“Jonathan is an extremely intelligent individual who has proven time and again that he is willing to work hard with young people to help them achieve success,” Buonocore said in a statement provided by the school. “He has a clear understanding of our expectations in Ledyard, and I am confident he can exceed those expectations in meeting the academic, social, emotional and athletic needs of our students.”
His younger brother, former Florida All-American and Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, was convicted of murder in 2015 and is serving a life sentence in Massachusetts.
Because of the notoriety surrounding his brother, D.J. Hernandez left coaching for several years, started going by his middle name, Jonathan, and became a professional roofer in Texas, according to a 2016 profile in Sports Illustrated.
The Day reported that Jonathan Hernandez was given references by a number of college football coaches, including UConn coach Randy Edsall, for whom Hernandez played in college.
Bunocore also received references from Brown coach Phil Estes, Towson coach Rob Ambrose and Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Morehead.
Hernandez also interviewed for the now-closed Hand job, which went to Dave Mastroianni this week, according to sources.