Haywood thrives in junior year

RB finishes season with 1,222 rushing yards on 139 carries, 295 receiving yards and 20 TDs.


Gabby Valentine, Staff Reporter

At a young age, junior running back Maquel Haywood started a journey toward his goal of playing professional football.

“I remember when I lived in Durham, I was trying out different sports, and my mom told me I was going to play football. At first I said I wasn’t playing football because I hated it. My first year I hated it, and I would get beat up at practice. Really, my mom inspired me to do football, but after that I just loved it, so I kept doing it,” Haywood said.

Soon after Haywood discovered his passion for football, his focus went to working towards his goal of one day playing in the NFL. Haywood’s passion for success stems from his supportive and motivational family as well as the influential players within his community.

“Alvin Kamara, running back for the Saints is one of my role models. He’s a well known person, and I feel like he has a good attitude, and Bryce Love. I feel like he has a great personality. He’s one of the people I really look up to because he was successful,” Haywood said.

Love, a 2015 graduate, completed four years as a running back at Stanford University. In 2017 he was runner up for the Heisman Trophy.

Haywood has taken away much more from football than skills and strength.

“I’ve learned from discipline in football. Football makes you a very disciplined person and allows you to accept coaching, and it builds relationships with other people,” Haywood said.

Early on Haywood was taught a very valuable lesson after suffering a major injury prior to his freshman season.

“It really taught me to be grateful for what I have and showed me how blessed I am because that year not being able to play football was hard, but it allowed me to appreciate it more and work harder when I was able to start playing again,” Haywood said.

Once recovering from his injury, he made varsity as a first team cornerback. Practicing every day and going to the gym helps Haywood to maintain his strength and athletic abilities. Mentally, Haywood prepares himself for his games by following a ritual to motivate himself.

“The night before the game, I always pray. I pray a couple minutes before the game. I always lay out all the stuff I’m going to wear for the game on my bed the night before. I always eat a breakfast on game days, and listen to one song

“No Weapon.” It’s been the same since sophomore year,” Haywood said.

Watching teams on a collegiate level also inspires Haywood to work harder and prepares him for the future.

Haywood said, “Since I have plans to play in college, seeing how they play on Saturdays and seeing their level of competition on a college level just drives me to get better, since I know I want to play on a College level. I do it for my family and friends.”