Hayden Hurst is no stranger to success. However, the current NFL football player has had his time with failure.
During his time at Bolles, Hayden collected two state championship baseball rings. However, the road to being a first round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 wasn’t easy.
His low-90’s fastball made him a powerful pitcher for the varsity high school team by eighth grade. Hayden played football but his passion was baseball. “We had some good luck my freshman and sophomore year and these are friendships that I’ve held throughout the years. The whole baseball team is pretty dear to my heart,” Hurst said.
Top: Hayden Hurst in 2012 playing baseball at The Bolles School (Photo Credit: Florida Times Union) Bottom: Hurst in 2018 during a Baltimore Ravens game (Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun )
In 2012, Hurst graduated from Bolles with an offer from Florida State University to continue playing baseball but before he could be a Seminole, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the 17th round of the 2012 Baseball Draft, offering a $400,000 signing bonus. This convinced Hurst to forgo college and report to Pittsburgh’s Rookie League team.
In 2013, Hayden Hurst, one of the most promising young pitchers in the Gulf Coast League, was standing on the mound at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training facility when he felt a tinge of nausea as he fired warm up pitches before his first professional game, against the Baltimore Orioles. He looked down at his right hand and it trembled. Then his hand went numb. He looked around, unsure of what was happening or why, and realized he couldn’t feel the ball. Jitters? No. Hayden had a serious case of “the yips.”
The Yips are the sudden inability to perform accurately. This condition has affected athletes in other sports as well, whether it be during their tennis serve, or their football kick. “I was pretty successful with everything and then I got with the Pirates and things didn’t go according to plan so I really just tried to get in the weight room and outwork people in that way,” Hurst said.
Hurst tried everything to fight this, he saw a psychiatrist, he journaled. He even tried hypnotism, he told Bleacher Report that was a “bizarre” experience. When the usual remedies failed, the young athlete started exploring other options.
Hurst hadn’t played football in years, but he was 6-foot-5 and could still run a sub-4.60 40-yard dash -- ideal for a tight end. His last season playing football was at Bolles. After leaving the Pirates, he chose to walk on at South Carolina for the 2015 season, his first time playing football in three years.
“My thing is try to outwork everybody. Go about your work quietly and try to be known as the hardest worker. I’m not big on talking and stuff like that. I always try to lead by example and through my actions and let my play speak for itself,” Hurst said.
Hayden applied strategies from his time at Bolles and applied them to football. “I think the best thing that Bolles does is it makes you disciplined. It’s such a challenging academic school that you have to manage your time and use all of your resources. Still to this day my schedule and everything I learned at Bolles contributes to what I do and the success I have now.”
He earned a scholarship in the spring of 2016, and then set the Gamecocks single-season record for receptions by a tight end that fall with 48. He caught 44 more passes as a 24-year-old junior in 2017.
Suddenly the guy with the yips became a prospect for the NFL.
Above: Hayden Hurst breaks away from the Chicago Bears (Photo Credit: Sporting News)
Although his path to the pros was unconventional, Hurst accomplished his goals through his hard work and drive. “I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to get my foot in the door here with the Ravens. I hope to keep learning and playing faster so I can play for another 5, 8, 10 years, hopefully.”
At the 2018 NFL Draft, Hayden Hurst was a 1st round pick for the Baltimore Ravens. Hurst said, “Oh, man there were so many emotions bottled up during those 6 tough years. I was able to spend it [the draft] with my family and some of my buddies from Bolles that night. I’ll never forget that.”
The Daily Schedule of an NFL Football Player
7:00 - Report to Training Center for Rehab
“’ll do some rehab stuff for my body I’ll get in the cold tub get in the hot tub and then the sauna”
8:00 - Meetings with coaches and trainers. Watch film.
11:30 - Lunch
12:45 - Practice
“That’s normally about two hours”
2:45 - More meetings
4:30 - Go home
Hayden’s favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate chip cookie dough!