Haywood anxious to return to field|Former Southside star has one year left with Bishops

Published 7:55 am Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sports Editor

CHOCOWINITY — Bryan Haywood isn’t used to being a fan. He’s more accustomed to being one of the stars that fans head to the football stadium to watch.
After switching majors last year, Haywood decided to concentrate on academics instead of athletics. While he said it was the right move, the former Southside High School star said he missed playing for the North Carolina Wesleyan Bishops immensely.
“Just watching my teammates that I came in with (to the program) was hard,” said Haywood, who was the 2005 WDN Male Athlete of the Year. “I wanted to be out there with them. I rooted my team on from the stands.”
Haywood had a solid season with the Bishops in 2007, earning USA South Athletic Conference Second Team honors. He ran for 826 yards on 108 carries (7.6 yards per carry) and scored 12 touchdowns.
Haywood also had over 140 yards receiving and over 400 yards in kickoff returns, as he led the Bishops in all-purpose yards.
The speedy Haywood, who was also a track and basketball standout at Southside, is hungry to show that he still has what it takes to put up big numbers.
“I’m just anxious to get back out there,” said Haywood, who is majoring in psychology. “My main goal is to stay healthy and stay focused. I want to help guide my team to another (conference) championship.”
Despite missing all of last season, Haywood is confident about what he can do on the field this year.
“I know I still have it,” said Haywood, who has been lifting and running on his own as he prepares for camp in August. “I’m just going to go out there and try to do my best.”
The 6-1, 201-pound running back put up some impressive numbers in his first three seasons with the Bishops. Haywood has rushed for 1,699 yards on 257 carries.
He is already among the career leaders in a handful of categories.
Haywood’s career total of 2,704 all-purpose yards is tops on the Wesleyan list.
His 27 total touchdowns, which includes 23 rushing touchdowns, is tied for best all-time, while his 162 total points scored ranks second on Wesleyan’s career list.
Haywood holds the career record (739), season record (407) and single-game record (142) in kickoff return yards.
He owns the top three longest kickoff returns in school history, including his 87-yard return for a touchdown against Washington &Jefferson on Nov. 17, 2007.
His 78-yard run on Sept. 29, 2007, against Maryville is the third longest in Wesleyan history.
Haywood is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. He had eight receptions in one game, which is tied for the second most in Wesleyan history.
The affable Haywood said he knows those numbers don’t mean a thing when it comes to getting back on the field. He’s ready to do whatever it takes to help the Bishops.
“We have a lot of good backs,” Haywood said. “Right now, I’d say I’ll probably be splitting some time but, you know me, I’m not the type of person who would complain about playing time.”
Wesleyan, which opens the season Sept. 5 at Hampden-Sydney College (Va.), is ranked 18th nationally in Lindy’s 2009 College Football Preview. Haywood thinks his team, which went 6-4 overall last year, has a chance to do some special things this year.
“If everybody does their past and we play to our ability, play smart and play together, we should come home with a conference championship again,” Haywood said.
The Bishops play their home opener Sept. 12 against Salisbury. All of the 2009 home games will be played at the Northern Nash Football Complex.
Haywood is eager to strap on the helmet and shoulder pads once again.
“I love football,” said Haywood, who wants to play overseas once his college career is finished. “Every night before I go to bed I watch my high school highlight tape and then I put in my college highlight tapes. I’m just ready to go back out there.”