South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst’s ‘heart’ impressing NFL scouts

Hayden Hurst
Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports

Hayden Hurst knows baseball. Hayden Hurst knows football. Now, scouts around the NFL are getting to know more about Hayden Hurst.

NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein named the South Carolina standout as one of his top tight ends to watch during the coming college football season.

Zierlein described Hurst as a “very good athlete who has the heart to play over the deep middle” and emphasized his motivation to succeed in his second chance in sports. Hurst previously played minor league baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system before heading to South Carolina.

Hurst (6 feet 5, 253 pounds) caught 48 passes last season, setting a South Carolina single-season record for a tight end.

“He’s a reliable target and will go out of his way to punish tacklers rather than run out of bounds,” Zierlein wrote.

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Hurst has a good shot to increase his production in 2017, now that sophomore Jake Bentley is lined up to play quarterback from the start. The Gamecocks’ offense largely sputtered last season until Bentley took over for the season’s second half.

He was selected as a team captain in 2016, becoming the first sophomore in school history to be a permanent team captain.

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