|Height: 5-11 | Weight: 197 | College: Illinois|
Positives: Has a well-built physique with good upper body muscle definition. Split high with fairly long legs. Solid contributor and team player who can also play on special teams. Not really vocal, but well liked by teammates and staff. Sees the play develop and reacts quickly, showing good short area speed and quickness to get to the edge and string plays out in run force. Has adequate speed, but keeps a tight mirror on the receivers through their routes, easily adjusting to the ball in flight and will not hesitate to get vertical in order to get to the pigskin. Plays his responsibilities first and then flies to the ball in zone coverage. Does a good job with his hands to execute the press. Tracks the ball well and has the range and catch-up acceleration to make plays in front of him. Has the body control needed to get to the right spot and time his leaps to get to the ball at its high point. Has soft, natural hands, because of his experience as a receiver, he's not often fooled by fakes or double moves. Uses his hands effectively to keep blockers off his body in the open field. Very physical tackler who breaks down and explodes into the receiver when making the hit.
Negatives: More quick than fast and might be better suited for safety, where his speed limitations vs. the blazing receivers will not come into play. Needs backpedal technique improvement, as he shuffles his feet and needs to open his hips better in transition. Lacks experience and played on his natural ability last year, but shows great upside and could be a nice developmental project who will give instant value on special teams while he learns the nuances of playing defense. Does not show a quick second gear needed to recover when beaten. Struggles to disengage when double teamed and needs to develop more strength in order to play in run support.
Played in 10 games, starting eight at flanker in his first year at Illinois. Sat out the Iowa and Indiana contests with an ankle sprain, but still led the team with 52 catches for 592 yards (11.4 avg) and three touchdowns. Carried six times for 54 yards and recorded four solo tackles on special teams.
2003 GAME Analysis
Missouri: Began his Illini career with a 6-yard scoring grab.
Iowa State: Added 53 yards on two catches with a 41-yard touchdown.
UCLA: Snared eight passes for 63 yards.
California: Hauled in 11 passes for 158 yards and a 72-yard touchdown. His 11 grabs rank seventh on the school's game-record list.
Wisconsin: Followed with 97 yards on nine catches and 10 yards on a reverse.
Purdue: Ran for a 16-yard gain and caught five passes for 40 yards.
Michigan: Rushed twice for 20 yards and picked up 25 yards on four receptions.
Minnesota: Snatched three passes for 93 yards.
No injuries reported.
Attended Joliet (Ill.) Junior College (2001-02). Was the first wide receiver to ever earn NJCAA National Offensive Player of the Year honors. . ..Racked up 1,297 yards and 13 touchdowns on 72 catches (18.1 avg) as a sophomore. Caught 114 passes for 1,839 yards and 17 scores, an average of 16.2 yards, during his junior college career. Earned first-team All-American accolades in his second season. Two-time All-Conference and All-Region pick. Named conference Player of the Year and MVP of the 2002 Junior College national championship game. After losing his first junior college game, he led Joliet Junior College to 21 consecutive victories and the 2002 NJCAA national championship.
Speech Communications major Son of Lynette and Hayden Hayden Born Hayden Darnell Hayden Jr., on 7/23/83 Resides in Chicago, Illinois.
Attended Hubbard (Chicago) High. Was a four-year starter on the football team. All-State selection as a wide receiver as a senior. . ..Named to the first-team All-PowerBar team, as he led the team and finished second in the state with 10 interceptions as a freshman cornerback. Threw 21 touchdown passes, while rushing for seven more scores as a sophomore quarterback. Racked up 2,315 rushing yards and 33 scores as a junior tailback. Totaled 792 yards despite missing seven games as a senior. Four-time All-Conference pick and three-time All-Area selection. Two-time City League Track Champion in the 55 and 200-meter dashes indoors and the 100 and 200-meter dashes outdoors.