BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – Bluffton’s Evan Hayes grew up with a dream — play professional soccer. That all changed when he met Bobcats head coach John Houpt and was convinced to try out for the junior varsity football team.
“I remember freshman year kicking it into the endzone [on a kickoff] and thinking ‘Ok, I can do this’,” Hayes recalls.
Four years, a trio of game-winning kicks and two school records later, Hayes found his calling as a kicker and has signed to play football at Stetson University.
“Senior year [Coach Houpt] emphasized special teams so much and let me take charge and be a leader,” Hayes explained. “Being able to have that same connection with a college coach is where it really clicked [with Stetson].”
In his first year on varsity, the Bobcat kicker nailed a game-winning field goal in double-overtime to beat Hilton Head in the 2017 Bridge Bowl. Hayes said his career trajectory changed completely after splitting the uprights in the rivalry game.
“It got me a lot more attention for football as opposed to soccer,” Hayes added. “When my junior year came, I started talking to colleges for football and that’s when I really started to focus on it.”
WSAV sports reporter Connor DelPrete talks to Hayes about his commitment, staying in the south, what attracted him to Stetson, and more.