football Edit

Pat Washington not surprised by Hayden Hurst's impressive combine showing


With South Carolina's spring practice going on, tight ends coach Pat Washington had to work Saturday during Hayden Hurst's NFL Combine testing.

That's not to say Washington wasn't paying attention, though, as the veteran SEC assistant had his DVR set at home so that he could watch his star pupil impress on-lookers in Indianapolis as's No. 1-ranked tight end in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Hurst impressed NFL analysts with his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame, 4.67 40-yard-dash, and smooth pass-catching ability. But Washington, who predicted Hurst would run in the 4.6s and said he's capable of hitting the 4.5s, said Hurst's value is far greater than the scope of what scouts would see Saturday.

"If they’re judging his talent only by what he does at the combine they’re mistaken," Washington said. "You need to watch his film. That tells you what he can and can’t do."

On the field, the former walk-on set school records at the position for receptions (48) and yards (616) in 2016 under Washington's watch. In 2017, he caught 44 passes for 559 yards and two touchdowns.

Off the field, Hurst became known as literally the program's hardest worker, with a habit of getting caught in the weight room at odd times of the day and night.

"I just tell them to watch him," Washington said. "Watch him as a football player. Once you get him as a football player you’re going to get a great individual, a very hard worker, a guy that will be a leader in his room, a guy you don’t have to worry about. He's not going to do anything crazy. I think he's pretty mature."

Hurst, who spent two years in rookie baseball in the Gulf Coast League, before ultimately returning to football, is the second former MLB player that Washington has coached.

He believes that experience has helped Hurst grow into the person and player that he is today.

"Once you go through about four years of riding that bus in baseball and then make a decision to play football all the little silly things that these young 17-, 18-, 19-year-old kids are doing, they don’t do," Washington said. "They've done it. They don't waste their time with it. They are focused, they know exactly what they want and they’re going to grind and get to the level they want to be at. ...

"He’s a humble kid, he’s going to work extremely hard, and he has a little ability to go with that. I think he’ll do well, I really do."

Hurst's other combine numbers included a 31.5 inch vertical leap, a 4.37-second shuttle, and a 120-inch broad jump.