Tight end | South Carolina | Junior
Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 250 pounds
2017: 44 receptions (10th in FBS among tight ends) for 559 yards (seventh in FBS among tight ends) and two touchdowns; nine rush attempts for 30 yards and a touchdown; team captain; First-Team All-SEC selection by the *Associated Press *and coaches; Mackey Award semifinalist (nation's best tight end); Burlsworth Trophy semifinalist (nation's top walk-on); SEC Academic Honor Roll
Career: 100 receptions (most by a tight end in school history; 17th among all Gamecocks) for 1,281 yards (second by a tight end in school history) and three touchdowns; 11 rush attempts for 39 yards and one touchdown; team captain in 2016 and '17 seasons; walked on in 2015 after playing three seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization
40-yard dash: 4.67 seconds (tied for third among tight ends)
Bench press: Did not participate
Broad jump: 10 feet (tied for fourth among tight ends)
Vertical jump: 31.5 inches (ninth among tight ends)
3-cone drill: 7.19 seconds (ninth among tight ends)
20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds (sixth among tight ends)
60-yard shuttle: 12.15 seconds (tied for sixth among tight ends)
Summary: Hurst, who will turn 25 in August, already has been through a professional sports draft. He was selected by Pittsburgh in the 17th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. He turned down a scholarship offer to play baseball at Florida State and spent multiple seasons in the Pirates organization, originally as a pitcher and then as a first baseman.
Hurst had a fastball in the low 90s but developed a case of the "yips" to the point of being unable to throw accurately in a game of catch along the foul line, much less from the mound. He pivoted at that point to football.
"The biggest thing that I take from my experiences from baseball, as hard as it was, what I went through in those three seasons, it's made me a pretty resilient person," Hurst said during his podium session at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I was pretty much at the bottom of the sports world, stayed in the rookie league for three years but battled my way out, made a life change and brought myself to this situation."
Despite only playing one year of football in high school (The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida) and the considerable gap of time, Hurst walked-on with the Gamecocks in 2015.
In 2016, he set the school's single-season mark of catches by a tight end with 48 and receiving yards in a season by a tight end (616).
View images of South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst.
Stacking up: NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock ranked Hurst as the top tight end prospect before and after the combine. Counterpart Bucky Brooks, however, slotted Hurst at second among the position group behind South Dakota State's Dallas Goedert. Brooks described Hurst as a "big-bodied seam runner with soft hands and outstanding 'box-out' skills."
Daniel Jeremiah nudged Hurst up three spots from 34 to 31 in his Top 50* *after the combine. Jeremiah liked multiple elements of Hurst's game, saying the tight end "excels of vertical routes and crossers," tracks the ball well and has a big catch radius. Jeremiah added, "He received the ball quite a bit on tight end reverses and proved plenty capable of making defenders miss or out-running them to the corner."
Just a number:Hurst said at the combine that teams had asked about his age and said he didn't buy into it being a disadvantage.
"I played one year of high school football. I don't have the wear and tear that some of these guys do. I played two full seasons at South Carolina, and in my opinion, I'm just kinda tapping into what I've been able to do as a football player."