Measurables are always the first thing mentioned when examining potential NFL prospects: size, speed, strength. But it’s the intangibles—grit, determination, humility—that make it possible for the starting running back at Thomas More College to have those same professional aspirations.
Domonique Hayden had quite a season last year as a redshirt junior at the Division III school, racking up a school-record 2,017 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns on his way to winning the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Offensive MVP. His performance also drew some NFL eyes, earning Hayden workouts with the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions this offseason. Yet despite the success and extra attention, he hasn’t let it go to his head.
“Since my freshman year, I was going to try to be more successful as my career went on but not necessarily focus on [the scouting process],” says Hayden. A Lexington native, he received interest from a few Division I schools, but ultimately chose Thomas More based on the campus visit and his own physical attributes. At 5-foot-8, Hayden was pegged as too small by most DI programs, something head coach Jim Hilvert says contributed to the massive chip on his tailback’s shoulder. More adversity followed when a hamstring injury suffered during his first game two years ago sidelined Hayden for the rest of the season. He came back even stronger, recording one of the most productive seasons in Thomas More history last year.
“I talk a lot about smacking adversity in the face,” says Coach Hilvert, “and that’s exactly what Dom did.”
If all goes as planned for Hayden, NFL linebackers could be next in line.