DEREK SHERRARD "D.J." HAYDENCornerbackUniversity of Houston Cougars#25:11.1-191Houston, TexasNavarro Community CollegeFort Bend Elkins High School
The junior college discovery had a banner senior season, leading Conference USA while ranking 12th in the nation with four interceptions and had come off back-to-back games where he had returned interceptions for touchdowns. Hayden was invited to the 2013 Senior Bowl.
Hayden was featured at Houston's Pro Day and scouts flocked to campus. Hayden's 40-yard dash was a scorching 4.33 seconds. Officially, it would go in the books as a 4.4 time. He was also measured at 33 ½-inches in the vertical jump and had a 10-foot broad jump.
At Fort Bend Elkins High School, he played cornerback. Hayden enrolled at Navarro Junior College and played in 10 games for the Bulldogs in 2009. He tallied 23 tackles (17 solos) with one stop behind the line of scrimmage.
Hayden started 11 games, recording 35 tackles (33 solos) with six pass deflections and three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown in 2010. He helped lead Navarro College to the NJCAA national championship while playing on a defense that allowed opponents just 226.0 yards per game, including just 115.1 yards passing.
Hayden received a three-star prospect rating from Rivals.com, as that recruiting service also placed him 41st on their JUCO Top 50 squad. The cornerback received several serious offers, but chose to attend the University of Houston over Arkansas, Texas Christian, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Mississippi.
The junior's first season at Houston was a terrific success. The team finished with a 13-1 record and Hayden was named Conference USA Newcomer of the Year. The shutdown field cornerback started 12 games and he caused five fumbles (just six major college players had more in 2011), posted 66 tackles with eight stops-for-loss and recovered two fumbles. He picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown and deflected 11 other throws.
A preseason All-American, Hayden started the first nine games at field cornerback, earning All-Conference USA first-team recognition. He led the league and finished 11th in the nation with 171 yards and two touchdowns via four interception returns, as he also deflected eight throws. He also made 61 tackles along with causing and recovering a fumble.
Hayden appeared in 22 games at Houston, starting 21 contests at field cornerback… Recorded 127 tackles (90 solos) with a 10-yard sack, 9.5 stops for losses of 31 yards, three fumble recoveries and six forced fumbles…Deflected 19 passes and intercepted six others for 229 yards (38.17 avg) and three touchdowns….His three scores tied the school career record that was first set by Johnny Jackson (1986-88) and matched by Cornelius Price (1988-89)…His three interceptions for touchdowns also tied Deron Wilson of Southern Mississippi (2010-12) and Shawn Ferguson of Cincinnati (1997-99) for second place on the Conference USA all-time record list, topped by only Leo Barnes of Southern Mississippi (four; 1997-2000).
Hayden earned All-American third-team and Super Sleeper Team honors from The NFL Draft Report and was selected All-Conference USA first-team by the league's coaches and media…Led the conference and finish 11th nationally with an average of 0.44 interceptions per game, picking off four tosses for 171 yards and a school season-record two touchdowns…His 171 yards gained on those interceptions were the most by a Cougar since Johnny Jackson generated 218 yards in 1987…Placed fifth on the team with 61 tackles (38 solos), as he caused and recovered a fumble…Also deflected eight passes…Gained 11 yards on a punt return and made 10 tackles with two assisted stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. Louisiana Tech…Added seven tackles (6 solos) with a forced fumble and two pass break-ups vs. UCLA, as he also had his first interception for the season…Registered nine tackles in back-to-back games vs. North Texas (one PBU) and Alabama-Birmingham (two pass break-ups)…Delivered six tackles (4 solos) and returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown vs. Southern Methodist…One week after recording a pick-six vs. SMU, Hayden ended a pivotal Texas-El Paso drive with his 97-yard interception return to put Houston up 28-7. The return was Hayden's second pick of the game after he ended UTEP's third drive on just one play, picking off Nick Lamaison on Houston's 39-yard line. The Cougar offense would turn the interception around into a touchdown and an early 14-0 lead. The senior also finished with four tackles and one pass break-up. His 97-yarder is the longest return by a Cougar since Frank Ditta returned a interception 100 yards vs. San Jose State in 1971.
Hayden was named Conference USA Defensive Newcomer of the Year and earned second- team All-Conference USA honors...One of the country's top junior college newcomers and was a shutdown corner for the UH defense, taking over field cornerback duties, where he started 12 of the 13 games he played in…Just six major college players recorded more than the junior's five forced fumbles, as he also had two fumble recoveries while finishing sixth on the team with 66
tackles (52 solos), leading the secondary with eight stops for losses of 28 yards that included a 10-yard sack…Deflected a team-high 11 passes and intercepted two others for 58 yards in returns, including a touchdown…Forced a fumble in each of the season's final five games...Had two tackles for loss in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl win vs. Penn State and made five tackles, two stops-for-loss, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble vs. Rice…Delivered nine tackles vs. Marshall and
eight stops in each of the Tulsa (one forced fumble and two pass break-ups) and Southern Mississippi (forced fumble) games…Had his first interception as a Cougar, along with eight hits (7 solos) vs. North Texas…Returned his other interception 54 yards for a score vs. Alabama-Birmingham.
4.33 in the 40-yard dash…1.47 10-yard dash…2.50 20-yard dash…4.09 20-yard shuttle…11.46 60-yard shuttle…6.97 three-cone drill…33 ½-inch vertical jump…10'0" broad jump… 31 1/8-inch arm length…9-inch hands…74 3/8-inch wingspan.
Hayden attended Fort Bend Elgin (Missouri City, Tex.) High School, playing football for head coach Ron Crivellari.
Sociology major…Son of Taloria and Derek Hayden…Born Derek Sherrard Hayden 6/27/90 in Houston, Texas.