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Football fans around Roane County know how good Midway rising senior Hayden Hester is.
Late in June, a lot of college coaches found out just how good Hester is also, as the 6’3” 325-pound Green Wave lineman took the first place in the 2014 Lineman Challenge at the 2014 Blue Chip Academy at Mars Hill College.
“When I went there I was wanting to walk away with a plaque,” Hester said. “I wasn’t the biggest or quickest guy there. It took a lot of want-to, but I wanted to prove that I was up to the task.”
Hester was one of 68 linemen that attended the three-day camp, which featured cut downs every day to find out who the best player was among guys up front.
The first day featured four practice sessions, and when the day was over, Hester was one of 32 linemen, 16 offensive and 16 defensive that moved to day two. He then made the cut to the final eight offensive and defensive for the final day.
On the final day, Hester was the last offensive lineman standing and had to beat three players on the defensive side to take away the top lineman plaque.
Hester winning the Lineman Challenge probably shocked many of those in attendance considering he was the only player representing a Class A school in attendance.
“I was the only player there from a single A school,” he said. “Everybody there was from big schools, but that made me want it more. I wanted to show them how a small school player can get it done.”
“I knew he could do it,” Midway head coach Joe Campbell added. “Hayden shows that it doesn’t matter where you come from. If you’ve got the ability and the want-to, then you can get it done.”
Hester’s strong showing should help him when it comes to playing at the next level.
“I’ve got two offers already from Kentucky Christian and Lindsey Wilson,” Hester said. “But there were a lot of coaches from all over the country there, including a bunch of D-1 schools and I’ve got D-1 dreams.”
“It’s just one more way to get his name out there,” Campbell added. “We’ve now got college coaches asking us for film instead of us having to contact them.”
Before college, however, Hester is focused on his senior season and his showing at the Blue Chip Academy has him ready to take on all comers.
“I have a lot more confidence and I thank God for giving me the ability to do it,” he said. “I’m going out there thinking I can beat anybody. I want to be unstoppable.”