Photo by Gerald Castillo
Haydel shows growth as Bobcats look to increase his production
Willie Jones III knew he had a free play.
Junior center Aaron Brewer snapped the ball to the sophomore quarterback after a New Mexico State defensive lineman jumped offsides in the third quarter on Saturday.
Jones rolled out of the pocket and threw a 50-50 ball. Sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Haydel came down with a phenomenal grab over an Aggie defender and stepped into the endzone for a 39-yard touchdown reception.
“You know, Aaron Brewer did a great job of seeing the guy was offsides and snapping the ball,” Haydel said. “You know, it was just a scramble drill. We work (on it) everyday in practice. You know, I just got off the line and tried to get open just to create a play for Willie. He’s scrambling. He did a great job of getting out of the pocket and he just threw the ball up. He trusted me. I just made the play.”
Last season Haydel was only targeted eight times during his freshman campaign. He tallied 83 yards and a touchdown on those eight receptions.
But this season, Haydel has slowly emerged as a go-to receiver for Texas State.
The sophomore wide receiver from Houston has only caught 11 passes this season for 198 yards. But Haydel has three touchdowns. He also returns kicks for Texas State.
Head coach Everett Withers and the offensive staff want to get Haydel more opportunities to make plays.
“I think what’s happened is you get a little older,” Withers said. “You know, obviously, Jeremiah was a freshman last year and got a chance to play and really just trying to get his feet wet and understand college football at a high level. I think this year he came back, Jeremiah is one of our hardest workers on our team. He wants to be successful. He wants to be good. He wants our team to be good.
“And I think me and Jeremiah had this conversation last week, we talked about how can we get balls to Jeremiah? How can we feature him and get more balls to him in the game? Willie gave him a chance and also you think about what he did on kickoff return. He had a couple nice kickoff returns. So, I think his maturity, his growth, lends for us to try to continue to add him to our offensive target package. He’s a guy that we want to continue to get the ball to.”
Haydel learned in his first year that attention to detail mattered. Coming from Alief Taylor High School just outside of Houston, he learned that he couldn’t just come out and play the game on Saturdays. The college game requires more film study and a better understanding of your opponent, he said.
While Haydel has grown from his freshman year to now, he knows he can still make improvements.
“I still got a lot of growing to do myself,” Haydel said. “You know, being a vocal leader. I just think I just have the mindset just to get better. Just want to get better and just do things right — Do the little things. Just putting in work.”
With six true freshman wide receivers on the roster, Haydel looks to teach the young wide outs even though he’s only in his second year at Texas State.
“I put the young guys under my wing as well,” Haydel said. “They look up to me. I’m just a sophomore but they look up to me. You know, I know what I’m doing and they follow me. They follow my lead. They follow Mason Hays, Hutch White, Tyler Watts — you know, he’s a senior — and they just follow our lead and see what we do and try to translate it as best they can.”
Texas State has an opportunity to increase Haydel’s production when the Bobcats take the field against Georgia State on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Atlanta.
Haydel is ready to put in the work.