Easton Hayter had to scale a mountain-sized obstacle on his path to playing college football, but the Garden City senior ultimately moved it like he would an undersized defensive tackle.
On Thursday, Feb. 12, Hayter officially signed a letter of intent to play Division 3 football for Olivet College.
What made the ceremony special for Hayter, his parents Jason and Samantha, Garden City football coach Scott Murray and the several Cougar teammates who attended the signing was that the 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive tackle earned a shot at the next level while playing just one season at the varsity level.
After playing junior-varsity football for the Cougars his sophomore season and putting in a full off-season of workouts, Hayter suffered a season-ending knee injury a few days before practices for the 2013 season were about to kick off.
Undaunted, he followed a successful rehabilitation process from a dislocated knee with a stellar 2014 season, drawing the attention of members of the Olivet coaching staff, whom he initially met during a prospect camp hosted by Toledo University.
“I like that the campus is small and the offensive line coach, who I met at Toledo, is very nice, very easy-going,” said Hayter. “Their criminal justice program is very good, too, and that’s what I wanted to major in. Just about everyone on the football team is a criminal justice major.”
Hayter wasn’t able to play youth football due to size limitations, so his first shot at the gridiron came his sophomore season at GC. After getting acclimated for a season against peers who had years of experience under their chin strap, Hayter was primed for a big junior season until he suffered the knee injury on the day before the team would be strapping on pads for the first time in the summer of 2013.
“So my senior year, I basically had to start learning all over again from kids who had more experience, so I had to step up, I guess you could say,” Hayter said.
To gain some exposure he missed out on by not playing his junior year, Hayter attended several camps last summer, including the one hosted by Toledo.
“Olivet’s offensive line coach worked with me a lot on my technique and footwork at the camp,” Hayter said. “Once I made my visit there, I liked it right away. I’m really looking forward to the experience of playing college football.”