If any player has ever deserved some of the spotlight, it is former Madison-Ridgeland Academy star, Hayden Davis.
Hayden should have been a highly recruited high school quarterback for MRA two years ago. The talent was there. Those plans were put on hold after suffering through multiple major injuries.
Looking for a chance to prove himself, his opportunity came from one of the nation’s more established junior college football programs in Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
“The JUCO league is definitely different than anything,’ said Davis. “You have to come to play every week. Guys are trying to put film out to get to the next level because that’s what we are here for, to prove that. Probably at least half of every defense is Division I or going to play somewhere after they leave so it’s not just something to take lightly no matter the record they have. ”
After a freshman season in a backup role, Davis won what was a very tough position battle in the preseason and has helped lead a talented Wolfpack squad to the MACJC playoffs. The decision to prove himself again on the junior college level has paid dividends.
“The best part about Co Lin for me is it feels like home,” said Davis. “My family is from here and several family members have gone before me. I can remember watching Co-Lin football when I was growing up. I never knew I would end up here, but it’s been a blessing playing for Coach Davis.”
Before looking at the impressive numbers from this season, consider what he has already overcome:
- A freak injury playing 7-on-7 broke the fibula and tibia in his right leg, along with dislocating his ankle, costing him all of his senior season at MRA.
- A torn ACL and MCL cost him all but a couple games of his junior season.
- A severe ankle sprain meant he would miss half of his sophomore regular season. He returned but a dislocated shoulder in the final regular season game would require surgery.
- Torn meniscus that also required surgery meant he would miss half of his freshman season at Lawrence County.
Fast forward to this season and it’s been awesome to see him regain much of the athleticism that made him such a promising quarterback prospect. More importantly, all of the toughness and mental fortitude it took to beat long odds is very much intact.
“I’m feeling good,” said Davis. “I wouldn’t say I’m back to my speed as far as running, maybe 90% there. I’m back to my strength in the weight room and I’m healthy. My biggest goal going into this season was just to stay that way, stay healthy for once. Play smart. If I had to carry it, I try to get down and take fewer hits. I have always had the linebacker mentality that has caused me to take more hits than I should. I’ve learned to just get the first down and get down.”
Hayden has completed 97-162 of his passes for 1,154 yards this season. His 15 touchdowns rank him 8th nationally in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). He has only thrown four interceptions all year.
Co-Lin is already playoff eligible with a 5-3 record that includes a 4-1 mark in the division. With one game to go in the regular season, the Wolfpack has already clinched a South Division #2 seed and will face the nation’s top team, East Mississippi, next week.
“I’m excited for the playoffs,” said Davis. “We have a great team and if we can put it all together, we can be a very special group.”
Whatever happens over the next few weeks, Hayden has overcome more than most could handle and has given himself the opportunity to enjoy playing again and to display the talent that has always been there.
“A lot of people and kids get down about schools that are anything different than a Division I school,” said Davis. “For me, I’m just blessed to still be playing the game. And wherever I can go to finish my college career, whoever wants me to come play for them, that’s where I’m going to go. I want to go where someone wants me and I can have fun playing my last two years. I want to go be part of a great program and coaching staff that loves the game.”
Hayden already has an offer from Southwestern Oklahoma State and several other Division II programs.