Rutgers loves an underdog story, and nobody is hungrier to write the next one than Hunter Hayek.
Wayne (N.J.) Hills champion, 1,233 all-purpose yards, 15 touchdowns and zero BCS scholarship offers.
While Hayek saw teammates, including his brother, land with big-time programs, the most versatile member of the offense got mad. Not mad at teammates or jealous of their opportunities. Hayek was mad at his luck. For every college coach that overlooked his on-field film based on two inches and 20 pounds on a tape measure, Hayek heard every excuse.
Hayek channeled his frustrations because whatever sliver of an opportunity came, he didn't want a foot in the door. Hayek wants to break the door down.
“A lot of the schools that were looking at me and telling me that spots were filled or I wasn't tall enough or didn't weigh enough,” Hayek said. “As soon as I come in, I'm going to come in with a chip on my shoulder. It's nothing against anybody but this is something that I have to prove to myself and to the other coaches that didn't recruit me."
Enter Jerry Kill.
Rutgers believed in Hayek enough to host him as an official visitor in December. When Kill arrived with a new plan at offensive coordinator, Hayek got his chance and he has something to prove.
Hayek's chance came in a last-minute opportunity offered by his Scarlet Knights. As soon as Rutgers University accepted Hayek the Friday before National Signing Day, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound receiver had a home.
“I'm not going to take anything for granted,” Hayek said. “As soon as I get to Rutgers, I'm going to put my head down. I'm going to work harder than I ever have and hopefully that will pay off. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder.”
Kill's revamped vision for the Rutgers offense includes Hayek as a slot receiver in the power spread with defensive backs coach Bill Busch as the lead recruiter.
“Coach Kill and Coach Busch are the reasons I'm going to Rutgers." Hayek said. “I will give Coach Busch credit for recruiting me since last year and Coach Kill credit for making the push with his offensive vision for me."
Hayek not only has relief with a big-time college home just days before Signing Day, but he has a stronger family than ever.
Hayek joins his brother Tyler Hayek in the Rutgers class of 2017 where both competed for scholarship offers during the camp circuit. Hayek gets to play his football at home, less than an hour's drive from his home town. Hayek gets two proud parents that now have a clear favorite college team.
Hayek also gets to play with his Wayne Hills quarterback. Brendan DeVera enjoyed the same late interest from Kill, and committed five days ago.
“Brendan joined before I had any news about my offer,” Hayek said. “I was really happy for him but I also felt like I got shorted or left behind a little bit. Now that I know I'm going to college to play with him, to play on the same side of the ball as him, I was excited.”
With Tyler Hayek out wide, Hunter Hayek in the slot and DeVera as an H-Back, Rutgers has the best of Wayne Hills.
“We know what it takes to win a state championship and in college it's a lot bigger to win a Big Ten championship or a National Championship,” Hayek said. “I trusted my teammates in high school and now I know I will in college. We were joking about it. Welcome to Wayne Hills University.”