Hayden Conner is no stranger to the national spotlight. He's been cited as the most dominant tight end and one of most promising prospects in the class of 2021.
Conner proved why again this weekend by winning the defensive line MVP at the Next Generation Youth Sports All-American Bowl in Orland, FL.
The 6’5, 245-pound Katy, TX, native, was back on the All-Star game circuit and Conner played another great game, this time starring on both sides of the ball in his MVP performance. It’s another award in the long list of accolades Conner has racked up at a young age, but he was just happy to be out there playing some football, and happy to pick up the win.
“The game went great. It’s always good to get a win when you’re playing that level of competition,” Conner said. “I feel I played great and did what I needed to do to help my team get the win.”
Normally, Conner gets his recognition from the offensive side of the ball, where as a versatile tight end he excels at both catching and blocking. But this game, after on of Connor's teammates was unable to make the trip, his coach, Coach Rusty Noel asked him to do something he’s never done before – play defensive end.
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“I’ve always played defensive tackle, and never played on the end, so it was a lot of fun to learn a new position,” Conner said. “It means everything that I could help my team without experience in that spot. We had a lot of great players on both sides of the ball, it’s an amazing honor to be recognized in that group.”
Conner registered 6.5 tackles on the day, and recorded two big tackles for loss. He helped set the edge for the defense from the opening snap, and this helped him earn the defensive MVP honors for the game.
“My goal going into the game was to be physical and try to shut down my side of the field at defensive end,” Conner said. “After I made a couple of tackles for loss early in the game, Team Orange started running the majority of their plays away from me.”
This was the last All-Star game that Conner will participate in this season. His off-season will entail workouts and camps.
Conner plans to take the experiences he’s had at the NGYS All-American Bowl and countless other high end showcases and use them to help him enhance his game.
“The challenge is you’re always going to get the best of the other athletes when you’re playing at this level,” Conner said. “The positive is that I get better because I have to use my technique and not just my size. When I can perform well against the best from all over the country, it helps me know where I’m at and what I need to improve on to play at the next level.”
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