Steelersin amerikkalaiskiintiö täyteen

Donavan Hayden osaksi kuopiolaisten puolustusta

Tukimies Donavan Hayden täydentää Vaahteraliigan sääntöjen mukaisen Steelersin jenkkikolmikon. Hayden valmistui NCAA:n III-divisioonan Bethany Collegesta keväällä 2017. Viimeisenä yliopistovuotenaan Donavan keräsi tililleen 142 taklausta – toiseksi eniten koko III-divisioonassa –, joista 20 aloituslinjan takana. Lisäksi hän pakotti 4 rähmäystä, nappasi yhden syötönkatkon ja palautti 2 pallonriistoa touchdowneiksi asti. Hayden valittiin kauden 2016 päätteeksi konferenssin ykköstähdistöön ja lopetti yliopistouransa koulun historian eniten taklanneena pelaajana 360 niitillään.

Vaikka Hayden on melko pienikokoinen (179cm, 86 kg) tukimieheksi, hän ei kuitenkaan kaihda kontaktia, kuten miehen taklaustilastot osoittavat. Erinomaisella pelintunnistamiskyvyllään ja loistavalla liikkeellään Donavan pystyy tekemään pelejä ympäri kenttää. Hayden pystytään myös asettamaan monipuolisten ominaisuuksiensa vuoksi useammalle paikalle Steelers-puolustukseen.

Tell about yourself and your football career so far?

“I’m relentless, I put my hustle in the game, my family first and my faith in God. I played at Bethany College for 3 years. I was named 2016 D3 South Defensive player of year, 2016 PAC Defensive player of the year, 2016 ECAC South Region Defensive player of year, AFCA All-American and Cliff Harris finalist. I was also named 3 x player of the week.”

Why did you  decide to play in Finland and specifically for the Steelers?

“I decided to play for the Kuopio Steelers because after talking with the head coach, it seems like a pretty good program, they’re determined to reach their goal. I also feel like they’ll take good care of me while my time overseas.”

What are your expectations for the Steelers as a team and you as an individual?

“My expectations for the Steelers is to end up the best team in their league and winning it all. As an individual, I’m just looking forward to getting better as a football player, sharpening my skills.”

What’s your message for your new teammates and the Kuopio Steelers fans?

“My message for my new teammates:  Let get ready to work hard!  Message for Kuopio Steelers fans: it’s gonna be one hell of a season.”

Päävalmentaja Pekka Utriainen on mielissään Steelersin kolmannesta amerikkalaisesta:

“Donavan Hayden on ollut meidän listoilla jo pitkään, viimeisen reilun vuoden ajan. Viime kaudella päädyttiin takapuolustajaan ja oltiin onnekkaita kun saatiin Justin Bellin kaltainen pelintekijä. Nyt Vaahteraliigaan mentäessä ulkomaalaispelaajia koskevat rajoitukset muuttuvat niin, että meille tuli mahdollisuus saada molemmat.”

” Donavan on mielestäni täydellinen tukimies Vaahteraliigaan. Mies on pelannut Collegessa pääasiassa nykyaikaista ’Mike bäkkeriä’, eli välillä puolustuksen keskustassa päätehtävänään tukkia vastustajan juoksupeli, mutta usein myös isossa tilassa heittopuolustajana. Se nopeus mikä Donavanilla on yhdistettynä tukimiehen kovuuteen ja voimaan, tulee olemaan vaikea haaste Vaahteraliigan hyökkäyksille. Meidän puolustukseen Donavanin ominaisuudet sopivat loistavasti, miestä voidaan ja melko varmasti tullaan käyttämään todella monella eri pelipaikalla, pelisuunnitelmasta riippuen.”

” Syy siihen miksi mies Kuopioon saatiin liittyy kokoon – tukimieheksi Donavan ei ole valtava, mikä on varmasti ollut se syy miksi isojen pohjoisamerikkalaisten sarjojen portit ovat toistaiseksi pysyneet hänen osaltaan kiinni. Suomen kentille pelaaja on takuulla riittävän iso, ongelma se ei tuntunut olevan Donavanille myöskään collegessa pelinauhojen perusteella. Justinin ja pelinrakentaja Seth Petersin rinnalle kolmanneksi amerikkalaispelaajaksi saatiin nyt yhtä tasokas vahvistus.”

Hayden liittyy joukkueeseen jossain vaiheessa keväällä. Tervetuloa Donavan!

Donavan Haydenin otteita viimeiseltä College vuodelta pääset katsomaan TÄÄLTÄ.

 

Steelers fill their last spot for an American import

Donavan Hayden to join Kuopio’s defense

Linebacker Donavan Hayden completes the trio of American players allowed by the rules of the Finnish Maple League. Hayden graduated from NCAA Division III Bethany College in the spring of 2017. During his senior year Donavan tallied 142 tackles – second most in the entire Division III – 20 of which were for a loss. In addition he forced 4 fumbles, had one interception and returned 2 turnovers for touchdowns. Hayden was selected First Team All PAC (Presidents’ Athletic Conference) in 2016 and finished his college career as the leading tackler in school history with 360.

Although Hayden is a little undersized for linebacker (179 cm, 86 kg), he doesn’t shy away from contact, as his tackle statistics show. With his excellent play recognition and movement skills Donavan can make plays all over the field. Playing with an aggressive style of football, Hayden can be placed on several positions in the Steelers defense due to his versatile skill set.

Tell about yourself and your football career so far?

“I’m relentless, I put my hustle in the game, my family first and my faith in God. I played at Bethany College for 3 years. I was named 2016 D3 South Defensive player of year, 2016 PAC Defensive player of the year, 2016 ECAC South Region Defensive player of year, AFCA All-American and Cliff Harris finalist. I was also named 3 x player of the week.”

Why did you  decide to play in Finland and specifically for the Steelers?

“I decided to play for the Kuopio Steelers because after talking with the head coach, it seems like a pretty good program, they’re determined to reach their goal. I also feel like they’ll take good care of me while my time overseas.”

What are your expectations for the Steelers as a team and you as an individual?

“My expectations for the Steelers is to end up the best team in their league and winning it all. As an individual, I’m just looking forward to getting better as a football player, sharpening my skills.”

What’s your message for your new teammates and the Kuopio Steelers fans?

“My message for my new teammates:  Let get ready to work hard!  Message for Kuopio Steelers fans: it’s gonna be one hell of a season.”

Head Coach Pekka Utriainen is most definitely satisfied with the Steelers third American:

“Donavan Hayden has been on our shortlist for a while now, going back to a year ago. Back then we decided to go with a safety, and were lucky to land a true playmaker in Justin Bell. Now going into the Maple League and the change it brings to the import rules, we are able to get them both.”

“I feel Donavan is a perfect linebacker for the Maple League. In college he played the ’modern’ Mike LB spot, meaning he was sometimes in charge of plucking the middle, but often he had to play in space and be able to match up against slot receivers. The amazing speed Donavan has combined with the strength and grit of a true linebacker will be a challenge for Maple League offenses. Donavan’s skillset fits perfectly to our defense, he can and very likely will play multiple spots for us, depending on matchups.”

“I guess the reason we were able to land a player of this caliber relates to size. Donavan isn’t a huge linebacker by any means, and I am sure that is the reason why the big leagues in North America have so far been out his reach. Size did not seem a problem for Donavan at college, and it surely won’t be a problem over here in Finland. Justin Bell, QB Seth Peters and now Donavan will give us three very talented US imports that will make big plays in the Maple League next summer. We can’t wait!”

Hayden will join the team sometime during the spring. Welcome Donavan!