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Carlos Hyde Benefitted from Tough-love College Coach

Posted Aug 28, 2014

To examine the San Francisco 49ers 12-man NFL Draft class, 49ers.com checked in with a college coach of each pick. We continue our series with an Ohio State product.

To examine the San Francisco 49ers 12-man NFL Draft class, 49ers.com checked in with a college coach of each pick. We continue our series with...

This is how Stan Drayton remembers his first interaction with Carlos Hyde, then a sophomore running back inside the Ohio State football team’s weight room in 2011:

What are you doing – why are you not lifting?

Well, I hate lifting.

What are you trying to do?

Hopefully, I give this football thing a chance.

“The team was working out, and I saw him sitting on one of the plyometric boxes,” Drayton, then the Buckeyes wide receivers coach, said. “In the back of my mind, I was thinking, ‘There’s no way, no shot that this kid is going anywhere.’”

Hyde ended up somewhere, of course – New York, where he became the 57th overall pick in last May’s draft; and Santa Clara, where he has become the leading candidate to back up 49ers all-time leading rusher Frank Gore.

To hear Drayton tell it, Hyde came a long way in three short years. 

First Impressions
Drayton was hired to be Urban Meyer’s running backs coach in ‘12 and assistant head coach in ’13, Hyde’s final two seasons of college ball. “He was a lazy dude; he had the wrong mindset; he was not very motivated; he was actually on auto-pilot going in the wrong direction, I believe,” Drayton said of Hyde. “He would tell you the same thing. He and I had a chance to talk about those things that next year (in 2012), ironically. We kind of looked at each other and laughed. I think he knew in his heart that I was going to give him everything I got, and in turn he eventually gave me everything he had, so it was a happy marriage.”

College Improvements
“With any athlete, you have to earn their trust, and that took time because Carlos isn’t a guy that trusts real easy. Call it what it was – we went through a series of events where I thought he could be executing at a higher standard, both on and off of the field. He quickly realized if he wasn’t willing to make changes, then it was going to affect his playing time. There were a couple of instances where I had to do that, and I believed that not necessarily the fear of losing playing time but the fear of disappointing his brothers, eventually came to his heart.

“After his off-the-field incident (in July 2013), we suspended him for three games. That opened his eyes, and there was definitely a different Carlos Hyde from that point forward. Carlos is not a very a verbal guy. He’s not going to stand up in front of the team, tell the team that he’s sorry, pound his chest and tell him that he’ll never do it again. He just doesn’t express himself that way. He basically just made up his mind to pin his ears back, get on that football field and show his teammates that he would be worthy of a second chance.”

Big Moment
“He became a practice player, which is something that he never was prior to that,” Drayton said. “I remember in one drill, when it was good on good, offense on defense, ones versus ones, and Carlos ran with a purpose that none of us had seen before. I remember Urban Meyer walking up to me and saying, ‘What’s gotten into this kid?’

“Then, in his first game back with the team, I went up to him on the sideline and said, ‘Carlos, we’re counting on you to keep the offense on schedule,’ and he did that and then some. He ran with a passion. He ran with a purpose that none of us had seen before.”

Greatest Strengths
“The obvious is that you can tell that he is built to play running back,” Drayton said. “The squatty body time, the frame, and he’s agile. He has good speed and acceleration, and he has very natural instincts making reads behind the line of scrimmage. He knows how to play on contact.”

Drayton wasn’t surprised to learn that 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman recently compared Hyde to a child prodigy learning the piano. “He’s just a very smart football player,” Drayton said. “He learns and you don’t have to tell him a lot. And his talent is really revealed when the verbal conversation goes into functionality on the football field, and that’s something that is really special about Carlos.”

NFL Expectations
“I know his Ohio State struggles and successes serve as a great motivator for him,” Drayton said. “If he can tap into that same thing, I know he’ll do well. In the NFL, as long as you’re a guy that can accelerate through gaps and play on contact and stay as healthy as he has been able to, he’s going to have a great shot to have a great career.” 

Coach's Advice
“I talked to him on draft day, and I told him, ‘Don’t forget what it took to get you there. The hard work, the sacrifices and the hard times.’ I also told him to be careful about whom he surrounds himself with. I talked to him again since then, and just like a father looking after his son, I told him to watch his money and be smart – and give the 49ers everything he’s got.”


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