Looking To Contribute In Anyway for Knights

He hails from a small yet diverse community, one more famous for actor Bruce Willis or television star John Forsythe. But, Carneys Point, New Jersey native Aaron Hayward is attempting to carry his own legacy onto college football at Rutgers University.

"Actually, my home town is now Rutgers fans," said Hayward, a combo running back/wide receiver. "My high school is red and white so I get to keep my colors. I basically turned my town into Rutgers fans."

Hayward starred at Penns Grove High School, located in an urban fringe of a population around 4,700, according to the United States Census Bureau, in 2007.

Last June, the Scarlet Knights landed the speedy back as one of their earliest prospects of the 2009 class. Hayward cited the Knights' coaching staff, led by Greg Schiano, as the difference between staying in-state and earning a degree elsewhere.

"I met a couple of guys from Iowa," he said. "I met the Virginia coaching staff. I met the Colorado coaching staff. I met the Maryland coaching staff. Rutgers' coaching staff was different. They're not just about football. Some coaches I've talked to are just about football. They're about school and life and things like that."

But, Hayward, who ran for 1,363 yards and 17 touchdowns in his junior season, might have to redshirt considering the tailback depth, with four capable rushers ahead of him. Hayward said he is considering a position change, such as slot back, to make an immediate contribution.

"It's still up in the air where I'll play on offense," he said. "I try to pick the coaches' heads, ask them questions about what I can change. I'm going to play a slot back, basically like a Percy Harvin or Noel Devine. That type."

Hayward said regardless of he is positioned on offense, he wants the football.

"I was told I would use my own package type, trying to get me the ball as much as possible, lining up against the cornerback," he said. "I'm going to line up in the backfield, motion out, as long as I get the ball."

Meanwhile, Hayward continues to strive academically, improve his body physically and focus on his football I.Q.

"I'm hitting the books hard," he said. "I'm trying to finish up stronger than the last couple of years. I've also been working out, watching film, trying to understand different aspects of the game."

Considering that Rutgers just graduated two of it starting wide receivers, Haywards likes his odds.

"Next year, Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood having already graduated, they basically have Dennis Campbell, some other guys," he said. "The receiver ordeal probably has the least depth, so I prepare and work hard. I have a good job of starting, but I don't worry about that."

Hayward said he also communicates with fellow recruit Tom Savage, a quarterback.

"Tom and I are like brothers," he said. "Once you see us other, you can't separate us. Jokes are thrown around. We text, talk on Facebook, MySpace, IM. We talk about everything."

Hayward does not forget the early season struggles, which led to some anxiety by the Rutgers coaching staff.

"I second guessed one time," he said. "But I don't really worry about winning and losing. Then the offense clicked when the defense wasn't there. I remember when the coaches kept emailing me each week, asking me if I'm still here. What happened? A seven-game winning streak."

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