Dad treats son’s growth as busi­ness

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - RICHARD DAVEN­PORT

The 19th in a se­ries pro­fil­ing new­com­ers to the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­ball team.

When Chase Hay­den was a young man, he wanted to grow up to be like an Arkansas Ra­zor­back.

Hay­den was in Fayetteville while play­ing bas­ket­ball as a 7-year-old, and his fam­ily stopped by the Hog Heaven store at Wal­ton Arena.

“That’s when Dar­ren McFadden was the man, and Chase was a huge Dar­ren McFadden fan,” said Chase’s fa­ther, Aaron Hay­den. “We bought this life-size poster, and it was a growth chart. Chase had that growth chart on his bed­room wall his whole life, and as he grew we would mark it off never thinking he would end up as a run­ning back at the Univer­sity of Arkansas.”

Now a fresh­man, Chase Hay­den is pre­par­ing to carry the ball on the same field McFadden called home a decade ago.

Chase Hay­den, 5-11, 191 pounds, of Col­lierville (Tenn.) St. Ge­orge’s In­de­pen­dent School, chose the Hogs over schol­ar­ship of­fers from Ok­la­homa State, Mis­souri, Florida, Michi­gan, South Carolina, Louisville and oth­ers.

Aaron Hay­den started to pre­pare his son phys­i­cally, men­tally and emo­tion­ally for this level at an early age.

The el­der Hay­den was a run­ning back for the Ten­nessee Volunteers from 1991-1994 and was a fourth-round draft pick of the San Diego Charg­ers in 1995. He played two sea­sons for the Charg­ers and one each with Green Bay and Philadel­phia.

It was all busi­ness for Aaron as he coached and trained his son.

“I wouldn’t re­ally want to pat him on his back a lot, and par­ents thought I was crazy — like a Ser­ena Williams daddy,” Aaron Hay­den said. “Peo­ple would kind of act like that, but I’ve al­ways been se­ri­ous and I think over the years Chase has grown to un­der­stand it and ap­pre­ci­ate and love it now. But early on it was tough.

“We got up on Satur­days and would go run hills at the park. We pretty much did some­thing ev­ery day or at least three or four days a week. I al­ways wanted the game to be eas­ier than the work­outs we did. He’s been do­ing it since he was 5, 6 years old.”

The younger Hay­den took the work­outs in stride even in the early years.

“I just looked at it as some­thing that was fun,” he said.

He’s bring­ing a men­tal tough­ness and busi­nesslike ap­proach to foot­ball to the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

“I’m not go­ing to give up,” Chase Hay­den said. “I’m not go­ing to quit when times get hard. I feel like that’s when I rise to the oc­ca­sion or I get bet­ter. I prove my­self. I know there’s go­ing to be some ad­ver­sity.”

As a ju­nior, Hay­den was named Mr. Foot­ball af­ter rush­ing for 2,625 yards and 37 touch­downs. He was also named Mr. Bas­ket­ball for Class 2A as a ju­nior and se­nior. Hay­den had 160 car­ries for 1,917 yards and 27 touch­downs, and 12 re­cep­tions for 153 yards and 2 touch­downs as a se­nior.

Aaron Hay­den con­structed a 30-by-20-foot sand­pit near the woods of St. Ge­orge’s.

“We usu­ally hit that once a week or prob­a­bly twice a week dur­ing the sum­mer, and I think that has a lot to do with his quick­ness, his ex­plo­sion and his ac­cel­er­a­tion,” Aaron Hay­den said.

Aaron Hay­den also made his son run the 400-me­ter dash as a young­ster.

“Long story short, I just felt like track or some­thing that you do in­di­vid­u­ally that you can’t blame any­thing on any­one else ex­cept your­self teaches you how to be a great team­mate and be men­tally tough,” Aaron Hay­den said.

Be­fore high school, Chase Hay­den com­peted against older mid­dle-dis­tance run­ners — in­clud­ing Carl­ton Or­ange of Arkansas and Ter­rell Jackson of Clem­son — and set a county record for his age group.

“He was hang­ing with those two, and he ended up break­ing the record in the 400 and he hated it,” Aaron Hay­den said.

Chase Hay­den re­luc­tantly ran the 400 un­til the eighth grade, when his fa­ther al­lowed him to de­cide whether or not to run the race. The younger Hay­den ad­mits his fa­ther was right in push­ing him to run the 400.

“I prob­a­bly should’ve kept do­ing it, but that re­ally helped me a lot with men­tal tough­ness be­cause you have to be men­tally tough to run that race,” Chase Hay­den said. “That taught me hard work and be­liev­ing in your­self be­cause track is be­tween you and you. You have to put all the work in by your­self to get bet­ter and suc­ceed.”

Chase Hay­den has taken ad­van­tage of his fa­ther’s knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing run­ning back in the SEC and NFL.

“The foot­work stuff, he’s been through it,” Chase Hay­den said. “He tells me things to be aware of in­side and out­side of foot­ball.”

The im­por­tance of be­ing a stu­dent of the game and film study has also been stressed by his fa­ther.

“He’s been study­ing film since flag foot­ball,” Aaron Hay­den said. “I’ve been tap­ing games for­ever. I have flag foot­ball games on up to high school.”

Chase Hay­den un­der­stands fun­da­men­tals.

“Get­ting to the line be­fore you make a cut, get­ting your shoul­ders square, get­ting off the ball, ac­cel­er­at­ing when you see a hole,” Aaron Hay­den said. “He’s been hear­ing that since he was 6 years old.”

When it came to mak­ing his col­lege de­ci­sion, Chase Hay­den said the re­la­tion­ships he built at Arkansas swayed him to Fayetteville.

“The peo­ple made the place,” he said. “Arkansas made me feel like a pri­or­ity. That’s where I felt like I needed to be when I felt like they made me a pri­or­ity.”

Strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Ben Herbert won over Hay­dens with a pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing one of their vis­its to Arkansas.

“You can tell he’s like a mad sci­en­tist,” Chase Hay­den said. “I love be­ing around peo­ple like that.”

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE

Arkansas fresh­man run­ning back Chase Hay­den grew up in Col­lierville, Tenn., as a huge fan of for­mer Ra­zor­backs run­ning back Dar­ren McFadden.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE

Arkansas fresh­man run­ning back Chase Hay­den (left) re­ceives the hand­off from se­nior quar­ter­back Austin Allen at prac­tice Aug. 1 in Fayetteville. Hay­den is one of three new­com­ers in the back­field this sea­son for the Ra­zor­backs.

Cour­tesy of Hay­den fam­ily

Chase Hay­den, then 7, stands in front of a poster of Dar­ren McFadden in 2006 at his home in Ten­nessee. Hay­den’s fa­ther Aaron bought his son the poster of McFadden, who played run­ning back for the Ra­zor­backs in 2005-2007.

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