FOX UNDERCOVER - The cast of shady characters that Aaron Hernandez once surrounded himself with is well known, but FOX Undercover has learned the identity of a friend Hernandez calls frequently from jail, a name unknown to the public until now.
Ryan McDonnell, a friend of Hernandez's since at least high school, is the football star's jail house phone pal, a man seemingly far removed from the crew of criminals that Hernandez once ran with.
But McDonnell isn't one to talk and tell.
"Looking to talk to you about Aaron Hernandez," FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet asked him.
"I'm all set," McDonnell replied.
"You're one of his best friends. Anything the public should know about him?" Beaudet asked.
"He has lots of friends," McDonnell replied.
Some of those friends are now in custody, charged along with Hernandez in connection with the murder this past summer of Odin Lloyd. Unlike those friends, McDonnell is not suspected of any criminal activity.
Hernandez and McDonnell graduated in 2007 from Bristol Central High School in Connecticut. Hernandez was the star football player, McDonnell a varsity baseball player.
The two even had their picture together with two others, in the high school yearbook, dressed in formal wear. The same yearbook has the two friends' individual senior pictures.
Hernandez's quote: "If it is to be, it is up to me."
The yearbook also notes that McDonnell and his girlfriend were voted cutest couple. He lives with the woman now in Farmington, but he remained tight with Hernandez as Hernandez's pro football career took off.
Last year, TMZ Sports' camera captured Hernandez and McDonnell leaving Saddle Ranch, a restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif. McDonnell drove while Hernandez chatted briefly with photographers.
Hernandez didn't respond to letters written to him in jail about McDonnell, but jail phone calls are monitored and recorded, so the public may end up hearing some of Hernandez's phone calls from jail during his trial.
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