Domonique Hayden Hoping To Win Gagliardi Trophy

By John D’Abruzzo

Following another stellar football season, Domonique Hayden began to earn his share of postseason accolades.

The Thomas More College senior, however, has a chance to collect one more.

hayden_wjA 5-foot-8, 212-pound star running back, Hayden was recently named one of 10 finalists for the prestigious Gagliardi Trophy. The annual award is presented to the nation’s top all-around NCAA Division III football player.

Nicknamed “D-Train,” Hayden was the engine in the Saints’ offense and pretty much streamrolled past opposing defenses this past season. He earned the Presidents’ Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award for the third time in his career this season and ranked No. 1 at the Division III level with 25 rushing touchdowns. Hayden also averaged 158.4 yards a game and gathered a total 1,421 yards on 209 attempts.

“Domonique is an explosive runner and the most explosive I’ve ever seen,” Thomas More head coach Jim Hilvert said. “He continued to get faster and quicker. He also can catch a football very well.”

Hayden, who is from Lexington, Ky., rewrote the record books during his time in Crestview Hills. He finished his career as the program’s all-time leading rusher with 5,461 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. Hayden scored a total of 89 touchdowns and gathered 6,293 all-purpose yards.

“Just with his overall career, from the first day he set foot on campus, Domonique had a huge impact on our football program and with our school,” Hilvert said. “He’s a great person and very humble. He’s broken just about every touchdown and rushing record here at Thomas More and none of those ever went to his head.”

Hayden also set career records in 100-yard rushing games (24) and points (534). He set the single-game record in rushing yards (336) and rushing touchdowns (5).

“I know it’s not all about me, but if my team’s going to put the ball in my hands I’m going to make the most of it,” Hayden told Cincinnati’s Fox 19 earlier this year. “But it’s not all about me. Without my teammates, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.

“The main thing while playing football is to play for my teammates and my brothers beside me.”

Off the field, Hayden majors in Communications and has maintained a 3.1 grade-point average. He also volunteers with Thomas More’s mentoring program, has been a member of the college’s leadership council and volunteers with the Northern Kentucky Special Olympics.

“He’s been such a great leader for us and he led by example,” Hilvert said. “He worked to get better every single year. What impressed me the most about Domonique was the fact that he never cared about stats. He just wanted to get better.

“He certainly left his mark at Thomas More and with the entire Presidents’ Athletic Conference. He’s probably one of the best running backs the conference has seen.”

The Gagliardi Trophy was first presented in 1993 and recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award also is named after John Gagliardi, who was Saint John’s legendary Hall of Fame head coach who retired in 2012 with 489 career victories, the most in college football history.

The 22nd annual Gagliardi Trophy will be presented Dec. 17 in Salem, Va., at a banquet kicking off the Division III Championship weekend.  Online voting for the Gagliardi Trophy concludes today (Dec. 8) at noon CST. If you’d like to cast your vote for Domonique Hayden before the deadline, click here.