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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Hayden Howerton, LG, SMU

Hayden Howerton SMU
Hayden Howerton the mauling offensive lineman from SMU recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jonathan Joyce. Check it out!

Student-Athlete Profile:

  • Hayden Howerton
  • SMU
  • LG
  • 6’3”
  • 290 LBS
  • Hometown: Katy, TX
  • Twitter: @H_Howerton75

2019 Statistics:

  • GP: 13
  • GS: 13

First things first. True or false, everything is bigger in Texas.

Absolutely. Texas is the best state in the US. Football is just one of the many things that are bigger in Texas.

The biggest pizza in Texas is a 62-inch pie at Big Lou’s in San Antonio. Do you think you and the rest of the O-Line could knock that out in one sitting?

For sure. With all 20 of us that are in our position room, I think we definitely could do it. Hardest part would be deciding what toppings to get.

Maybe when things get back to normal that’s something to put on your bucket list. It’s definitely been a strange few months in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to a stop. How have you been staying football-ready while following social-distancing guidelines?

My brother is about to enroll at Abilene Christian on a football scholarship to play offensive line as well. We’ve been weight training in our garage four days a week with conditioning and O-Line drills at a field by our house on two other days. It’s great to have a workout partner like him and I’ve used my resources such as my dad, who also played college football and my FCA leader who was a collegiate strength coach at Alabama, Mississippi State, TCU, and Texas A&M to create a tailored workout that fits my needs and goals during this time. I’ll be ready when it’s time to get back to work in Dallas.

Tell me a little bit about the Air Raid offense. What are the pros and cons of playing O-Line in that scheme?

We have a great passing game, but we also had a 1,200-yard rusher last year so I’m not sure if I’d call it the Air Raid. But, going fast is a great way to catch the defense when they’re out of breath, and to be able to punch it in at the end of long drives is the best feeling. I have a great group around me and we do a really great job of picking up gains and protecting our QB which is fun. I love being able to go look for work on pass pro and knock a DE out when they aren’t expecting it. If there’s a con to a large amount of pass protecting is the D’Linemen can pin their ears back and D-Coordinators start to bring a lot of noise with the pressures. As long as we’re prepared and follow the rules, we’re able to pick most things up.

What is it about blocking in the run game that makes an offensive lineman smile from ear-to-ear?

Putting someone on their back and absolutely dominating someone is the best. Whether that’s an ass-kicking double-team or pulling around on power and crushing the linebacker. You should have a smile on your face when a run is called.

Were you able to catch the ESPN docuseries The Last Dance?

Yes.

Settle the debate. Who’s the GOAT, Jordan or LeBron?

Six for six in the Finals is an incredible accomplishment and I have massive respect for MJ. His leadership and his drive and determination to win was unparalleled. That being said, he had the greatest coach with Phil Jackson, the 2nd best player in the league at the time with Scottie Pippen, and one of the best defensive/rebounding players ever on his team with Dennis Rodman. MJ retires, the Bulls still make the playoffs in 1993-1994. LeBron leaves the Heat and Cavs and they become lottery teams. LeBron taking his team to the Finals seven years in a row with how much less talent he had in comparison to the rest of the NBA is insane. The NBA has more talent now than ever overall and LeBron is at the top. They’re both great players, but LeBron is the GOAT.

You chose SMU over a number of different programs during your recruitment (Army, California, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Houston, Kansas, Memphis, Nebraska, UNLV, Wake Forest, and others). What made this University the right place to continue your education and athletic career?

I saw the development of the program starting to take shape. I thought I could play soon and I really liked the coaching staff. It was a great mix of athletics and academics as well and still in my home state. I was and still am excited for the future of SMU football.

Check out other 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interviews

You went to the same high school (Katy High School) as new Dallas Cowboys backup QB Andy Dalton. How much of a mark did he leave on the football program there?

 Everyone loves Andy Dalton. His parents live across the street from me so I’ve met him, but I doubt he remembers me because I was like ten. His jersey is in our team meeting room. All the quarterbacks who come through want to be the next Andy Dalton. Katy is such a tradition based school that all of the former players are remembered and talked about.

What’s the best lesson any coach ever taught you?

Being a leader means getting people to do what they otherwise wouldn’t. Being a great leader goes hand-in-hand with being a great teammate.

Who is the toughest player you’ve competed against during your collegiate career?

Ross Blacklock at TCU and Lydon Johnson at Cincinnati for my first start was pretty crazy as well. Both great experiences.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

“Paving the Way.”

Who is the best player in the NFL today?

Quenton Nelson. Too bad an O-Lineman won’t ever be MVP.

He is an absolute superstar. Is he someone you model your game after?

He’s definitely a factor, but I also really like David Andrews, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson. Playing center and guard in College made me watch a variety of professionals to take from.

What advice would you give your younger self, knowing what you know now?

Enjoy the moments that feel like no big deal when they happen. Embrace every part of the grind and it goes by quick.

If I’m in Dallas, where is the one place I have to eat?

Terry Black’s Barbecue.

Give me your pitch to the 32 NFL GMs. Why will Hayden Howerton be an asset to their organization?

One of the most position flexible O-Linemen in the game. Can play any interior O-Line position effectively. Intense knowledge and passion for the game, will outwork and outsmart the opposing players and team. One of the most dependable players you could draft. You say it, I’ll get it done.

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