The first time I watched Massillon Jackson’s Hayden Junker, he was a sophomore playing tight end and some defensive end. As a sophomore, he played hard and with enthusiasm. Liked him then.
Going into his senior year, he camped often and worked hard. Same Hayden – I saw – the same things that I saw his sophomore year. Hustle and motor. A lot toughness.
Hayden worked out in front of Kent State coaches back in the spring. The defensive end coach liked him as a DE. Was aggressive and did well in the 1on1’s. The second half of the camp, he was given the option to do another position. He chose TE. The TE coach really liked him and the Kent State head coach liked him as a tight end, but one that they could move to an H-back.
Hayden will be playing tight end at Kent State. More of an H-back type position. Much the same position he plays at Massillon Jackson.
Listed 6’3-235. Aggressive and finishes plays. Motor always going. Good hands. Needs to improve overall speed. Needs to improve change of direction. But most recruits have to improve in those areas.
Other schools showed some love. Schools including Miami and Pitt. Army offered. Once Kent State made the call, Hayden accepted. Last week he visited the last Kent State camp and really enjoyed seeing other committed recruits.
Hayden went thru many off the same disappointments that other recruits go through in the recruiting. Interests by coaches, until they get whom they want. Coaches will not give solid evaluations. Coaches do not do a good job of projecting potential.
The good thing – Kent State was the offer that he really wanted. After he received the offer. he told me that it felt 100 times better than he ever imagined.
I admire Hayden’s perserverance. We hear so often that if a recruit does not receive an offer after a camp, he will not get one. I agree to a point, but I hate the word “never.” But some experts seem to believe in “never.” Thank goodness, Hayden Junker did not believe in the experts.
Kent State is going to use him as an “H-Back” type player. For me – not so sure, after two years of extensive strength and agility training, that he does not move to center. Just a thought. Of course, I am not am an expert at that either.
The very best to Hayden Junker. He will keep some of that Kent State blood in his Blackledge family for a few more years.