The move from baseball to football has worked out well for South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst, who is one of the best tight ends in this year’s NFL Draft class.
That said, the reason he changed sports was a major mental issue that could be viewed as a red flag by some teams. Hurst’s professional pitching career was derailed by a case of the yips, which he was unable to fix after extensive work. There could be concerns that he might eventually have a similar block when it comes to catching passes.
His former coach, Will Muschamp, believes NFL teams would be wrong to worry about that.
“The mental side of being a pitcher in baseball is a lot different than playing tight end in the National Football League,” Muschamp said. “I know the mental qualities and intangible qualities he has as a football player, and he’s a great worker. I have no concerns about him.”
Muschamp coached Hurst, who is 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, for two years with the Gamecocks and is the one responsible for moving him from wide receiver to tight end. It was a smart move in hindsight. He caught 92 passes for 1,175 yards and three touchdowns over those two seasons and he’s projected to be a first- or second-round pick in the draft.
The Dolphins are among the teams that have spoken with him, and he said he’d be happy to return to his home state. Hurst grew up in Jacksonville.
Another unusual element is Hurst being older than most of his fellow tight ends because of his time in baseball. He will turn 25 before the upcoming NFL season begins.
Muschamp thinks that is a positive as well, because he’s more developed, but still sees a high ceiling for him.
“He’s physically more ready and more mentally mature, but he’s only played tight end for two years,” he said. “He’s still has a huge upside as a player because he’s learning more and more every day.”
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