When people think of the historic run that UCF has had the last two seasons, they think of names like McKenzie Milton, Adrian Killins, Titus Davis and more recently, Darriel Mack. People think of the players with Heisman hopes, 95-yard kick returns, monster sacks and game-saving plays.
There are several players however, who’s contributions to the Knights remaining perfect over the last two seasons, have gone unrecognized. They are not necessarily the ones scoring touchdowns or making big plays, but they are the ones scouting the Knights’ opponents, preparing their teammates for what they will face each week, and signaling plays on offense for every game.
One of those players is quarterback Hayden Kingston.
Kingston attended Viera High School, which is just about an hour away from Orlando, and spent one season at Wake Forest before transferring to UCF. He spent all of last season with the scout team and this season took on the unique role of signaling plays each game and made just one appearance on the field to close out the USF game.
“I’m always in the meetings, stuff like that, trying to help out. Obviously with McKenzie earlier in the year and then DJ now,” Kingston said. “I try to help the best I can with anything, game related, film, practice. If we are seeing certain looks, coverages, or blitzes and things like that, you know, just making sure they’re seeing things like that, getting those reps.”
Most gamedays you will spot Hayden on the sideline. He’s dressed in full pads, with a green hat, green vest, and a headset on. If you can find Coach Heupel on the sideline, you can probably find Kingston not too far from him. He’s been the main line of communication on offense for McKenzie Milton and Darriel Mack this season and is deeply respected by his teammates inside the program.
No one can describe just how special of a teammate Kingston is more than his number one receiver in high school, who just happens to be a Knight and his roommate now, Tre Nixon.
“Him being my high school teammate, my quarterback, we have a really good relationship ever since I came to Viera,” Nixon said. “Just plays a big role on the sideline too. Just keeping everyone up, seeing what he sees on the defense, you know giving me some tips and stuff like that. You know, Hayden’s a big role, even though we might not see him on the field, he’s a huge role on the sideline.”
Just last week, someone tweeted about how strong UCF’s quarterback room was and how it would be for seasons to come, but they neglected to mention Kingston. Teammate Darriel Mack was quick to comment on the tweet, making sure that his teammate was recognized for his contributions.
forgetting hayden kingston 💯💯 https://t.co/FwMmipIjPj
— Darriel Mack Jr ™ (@DJMactastic1) December 20, 2018
“You know, Hayden’s a great person, first off. Not only as a teammate, but off the field too. Being around him all the time, you know, you really get a sense and insight that nobody else sees, because you know that he’s always in the background, things like that,” Mack said. “So, he definitely helps us out in the meeting room, on the field giving us pointers, just having that player criticism coming from my brother always helps me out a lot.”
Although Kingston has not and may not see much action on the field in his UCF career, he’s still an integral part of how the Knight’s operate on a daily basis. He’s respected by his teammates and his coaching staff and has continued to build relationships that make him a better person and a teammate.
“We’re all super close,” Kingston said. “I’ve been in other quarterback rooms and stuff like that and just the relationship that all of us have. Me and McKenzie have been here for a lot longer and then DJ came in last year, really got himself into our quarterback room, and then Quadry coming in this year. I think all of us have a really good relationship.”