T.J. Hayduk finds place in record book, URI

T.J Hayduk was driven to succeed and the end result was that Trumbull High’s standout wide receiver not only helped coach Bob Maffei’s Eagles post an outstanding 8-3 season, but also drew the attention of the University of Rhode Island coaching staff.

“I was invited to a summer camp at URI after my junior year and I remained in contact with them,” Hayduk said. “They asked for, and I sent, a highlight reel for my senior season and they told me I had what it takes to play for them.”

The 5-9, 175-pound senior liked to stretch the defense and teamed up with quarterback Nick Roberts to catch 52 passes good for 1,044 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The yardage total, that averaged out to 20 yards per reception, was seventh best in the state.

It took hard work over the course of their careers for Hayduk and Roberts to reach those totals.

“We knew what it was going to take to be good,” Hayduk said. “It wasn’t by accident that we got better as individuals and as a team. It wasn’t by accident that we won those games.”

Wherever there was space to air out a football in the offseason, Hayduk would race under Roberts’ throws all over town.

“After sophomore year we started working out and this summer the entire group of receivers and the offensive line would show up,” Hayduk said. “Sometimes at Indian Ledge, sometimes on a turf field or maybe grass. It didn’t matter. We just worked.

“Because we had such a great group of receivers, we pushed each other to get better and that gave Nick a lot of options.”

Becoming a full-time receiver took some convincing, because Hayduk liked playing defense.

“I always considered myself a defensive player, but then when my junior year came around I found I loved catching the ball,” he said. “Me being a smaller guy and Nick being so tall (6-4), all he had to do was throw downhill to find me.”

Hayduk is looking forward to joining coach Jim Fleming’s Rams, who finished the 2013 season with a 3-9 record, and has upped his workout program, increasing his foot speed with drills and his strength by lifting weights.

“I’m going to take up business with a eye toward marketing at Rhode Island,” he said. “Football-wise, they have a new coaching staff, great facilities.

“I know it won’t come easy. That’s what it was like playing at Trumbull High. With hard work you get playing time. Nothing is guaranteed.”

Hayduk credits his dad Tom and mom Maryann for instilling in him the right stuff.

“My dad kept telling me I had it in me to be good and told me not to doubt myself,” he said. “My mom helped me keep my head on straight and was always there to get me where I needed to go. And, I loved her post-game meals.

“I also want to thank our offensive line. Because of their work, Nick had time to throw and because of that I got the football in my hands.

“We took the o-line to a Chinese Buffet and treated them. We definitely lost money, and so did the restaurant, but I’d say overall it was well worth it.”