CHARLOTTE – The Panthers brought in a reliable target for their first-round quarterback pick, agreeing to terms with tight end Hayden Hurst this week.
Hurst, 29, comes to Carolina after a one-year stint with the Bengals. He put up 414 yards on 52 catches in Cincinnati last season.
Here are five fast facts to know about him:
1. South Carolina connection: Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Hurst walked on to play football at South Carolina in 2015. He played three seasons for the Gamecocks under Steve Spurrier and Will Muschamp, earning first-team All-SEC honors after his junior season in 2017. In his three-year career at South Carolina, Hurst put up 1,281 yards on 100 catches with three career touchdowns. He declared for the 2018 NFL Draft following his junior year.
2. With Bozeman in Baltimore: Hurst was picked up in the first round of the draft by the Ravens with the 25th overall selection, the first tight end off the board that year. Hurst totaled 512 yards on 43 receptions with three touchdowns in his two seasons with the Ravens. He played in the same rookie class as quarterback Lamar Jackson and center Bradley Bozeman (now at Carolina).
3. Time with Atlanta, Cincinnati: The Ravens traded Hurst to the Falcons before the 2020 season, and he posted his best statistical season in Atlanta. Hurst put up single-season highs in receptions (56), yards (571), and touchdowns (six) in 2020, playing in 16 games. He played 13 games the next year while dealing with a late-season ankle injury and signed with the Bengals for 2022.
Hurst has made three playoff appearances in his career – twice with Baltimore in 2018 and 2019 and last season with the Bengals. He tallied 141 yards on 13 catches with two touchdowns in Cincinnati's run to the AFC Championship game.
4. Baseball career: Before he started playing college football, Hurst was selected in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He embarked on a two-season journey in professional baseball, before stepping away from the sport for football.
5. Community service: Hurst won the 2021 Alan Page Community Award, the highest honor presented by the NFLPA, for his outreach efforts. He generated more than $150,000 in donations to The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation after coming forward about his struggles with depression during his time with the Falcons. His foundation raises awareness of mental health issues in children and adolescents by funding mental health services and programs.
View the best photos of newly signed tight end Hayden Hurst on the photo set with the Panthers.