Shortly after the Packers were eliminated from the playoffs last January, Hayward returned to Vanderbilt University for his final semester of college, and Hayward graduated last week with his degree in sociology.
Needing just 13 hours, including one more class in his major, to finish his degree, Hayward decided not to wait to go back to school. Having skipped the last semester he needed to graduate in order to go through the pre-draft process last year, Hayward didn’t want to put it off any longer.
“I wasn’t sure when I was going to go back, but if I waited another year, (the chances) were going to be slimmer than me just going back this first year,” Hayward said.
“I had definitely promised myself. I was too close not to finish my degree. I was only 13 hours away. I promised a lot of people I’d come back, but it was mainly a commitment to myself.”
Through independent study arrangements with his professors, Hayward was able to return to Green Bay for the start of offseason workouts last month while continuing to complete his coursework.
The Packers’ leader in interceptions last season with six, a total that was best among all NFL rookies, Hayward finished third in defensive rookie of the year voting in 2012. A second-round draft pick, he has laid a foundation for a potentially long and lucrative career in the league, but he didn’t let that get in the way of finishing something he had started.
“Because at the end of the day, you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Hopefully I do play a long time, but I’ll always have something to fall back on. I’ll still have to work a little bit when football is over.”
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