The 2018 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday night, and it will be held in Arlington, Texas. Hayden Hurst was the No. 25 pick by the Baltimore Ravens.
Hurst was a key part of South Carolina’s 2017 team, as he helped lead the Gamecocks’ offense. Below are the five things you need to know about the South Carolina tight end:
1. Hayden Hurst was a 2017 All-SEC selection
Hurst had a strong finish to his career at South Carolina, as he totaled 44 receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns. He was a unanimous selection for the All-SEC first team. He played in all 13 games for the Gamecocks, and he served as a team captain. Hurst was a semifinalist for the Mackey Award, which recognize’s the nation’s top tight end, and the Burlsworth Trophy, which recognizes the top walk-on. He had a career-high 93 receiving yards against Georgia.
2. Hayden Hurst declared for the 2018 NFL Draft before the Outback Bowl
South Carolina played Michigan in the 2018 Outback Bowl. But by that point, Hurst had already decided that he was leaving the Gamecocks a year early. Even though his future had already been decided, Hurst opted to still play in the bowl game for the Gamecocks. South Carolina beat Michigan 26-19, as Hurst had three receptions for 41 yards.
3. Hayden Hurst played two years of professional baseball
Prior to attending South Carolina, Hurst played football and baseball at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, and opted to sign with them and turned down a baseball scholarship from Florida State. Hurst played two seasons in the Pirates’ organization, but he couldn’t overcome yips, which plagued him for three years.
4. Hayden Hurst originally wanted to be a walk-on at Florida
When Hurst’s baseball career ended earlier than he had wanted, he decided he wanted to return to playing football. According to ESPN’s David Newton, Hurst wanted to be a walk-on at Florida. His parents had Gators season tickets since 1961, and he was from Jacksonville. However, Florida wasn’t interested. Instead, Hurst was recruited by Steve Spurrier Jr. to play at South Carolina in 2015.
5. Hayden Hurst has received praise from top college football analysts
Hurst is expected to be the first tight end selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, and for good reason. He was one of the top tight ends in the nation in 2017, and he is quite mature after playing minor league baseball for two seasons before going to college. That’s one of the reasons that ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit is a fan of Hurst, as he recently stated that Hurst is a “true old-school tight end,” praising the former Gamecock’s physicality, energy and athletic ability.