BY CARBERY CAMPBELL – STAFF WRITER
As Centre’s four-year starting quarterback from 2012-2015, Heath Haden led the football team to great successes and set record breaking performances. These include a Southern Athletic Association conference title and the NCAA playoffs in 2014 as well as the record for all time leader in passing yards.
He even returned to Centre for a 5th football season after forfeiting his eligibility freshman year due to an injury. In addition to football, Haden was a local theatrical star, playing in Centre productions and interning at Pioneer Playhouse. It seemed nothing could stop Heath Haden’s success on Centre’s football field and Weisiger Theatre’s stage except for, well, his inevitable graduation.
As Haden moved on to pursue action in California, Junior Devin Hayes moved into the position of Centre’s new starting quarterback.
Although Hayes may not have the desire to move to Los Angeles and “sharpen his chops”, as head football coach Andy Frye described Haden’s post-graduation acting pursuits, he is on track to match Haden’s exceptional success on the football field.
In the two opening games of the season, Hayes has been strong; throwing seven touchdowns, which is over one third from the total of 19 Haden threw a season ago.
He also looks to lead the colonels back into the post season. When asked if he felt prepared to lead the team to the NCAA Playoffs, Hayes responded “I feel the confidence in being able to do that, Heath was a four-year starter, and you don’t really see that that often at the college level, but I have the opportunity to do it”.
While Heath Haden played the role of Hamlet in Centre’s 2015 production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Devin Hayes was a freshman working towards an economics major and settling into his position as a Brown Fellows scholar.
Now, as a junior, Hayes is a Residential Assistant and plans to enter the business industry after graduation. Hayes’ leadership is evident on the football field as well as in Centre’s wider community, a trait that Coach Frye sees necessary for a successful team.
“When you’re the quarterback, you’re really thrust into leadership…The way the game is played today, the quarterback really manages the game”, said Frye.
Offensive coordinator Tony Joe White emphasizes that Haden and Hayes act as leaders in similar ways, writing, “Both are very encouraging to their teammates. Both are extremely humble…Neither of them are fiery loud cheerleader types.”
Hayes is still rehearsing his leadership strategy, saying that he needs to “be more vocal right now, stepping up and being that guy that people look to so that in the future, they just know to look at me instead of me having to say something first.”
As a four-year starting quarterback, actor, and model, Heath Haden undoubtedly had a great deal of practice learning how to cope with his nerves and respond to the expectations set before him. Devin Hayes mirrors this cool and calm demeanor, not nervous about his new central role on the team he seems confident in his abilities and playing experience. “In high school, I played behind a kid that was really good…Living up to that, that taught me some lessons…If you can overcome that, you don’t have to worry about much.”
Coach White agrees, saying, “Devin knows he doesn’t have to fill any particular shoes, he can simply go out each day whether it be a practice or game and be himself.”
Whether or not those “shoes” are Heath Haden’s football cleats and Shakespearian laced boots, last Saturday’s 39-28 win over Washington University in St. Louis makes it clear that Hayes is ready to play his own game and lead the Colonels to victory during the 2016 season.