There’s a Lot of Fight Inside This Tiger
NUMBER 33 IS FAST! (photo: Michael Chang/getty images)
Although he finished his high school career as one of two receivers in Arkansas high school history to surpass 2,000 receiving yards in a season and be named a MaxPreps All-American, he didn’t receive any interest from Division I colleges. He also had played soccer, so most schools thought of him as a kicker. However, he wasn’t deterred, and the undersized kicker/receiver walked on at Auburn, eventually earning a scholarship.
While there are larger and more highly touted receivers on the roster, Will Hastings has proven himself on the field. In last year’s season opener against No. 2 Clemson, he fought hard on blocking assignments and made four catches for 39 yards, three of which were on 3rd or 4th down—all resulting in moving the chains. But the thing that stood out the most was he seemed to have a knack for getting open.
From the first time I saw him in a game, I had a feeling that he might be special. He reminded me of some big-time players from the past that were not gifted with the physical attributes of speed and height usually associated with great receivers, players like Freddy Weygand and Shane Wasden.
The two played for Pat Dye, but on different teams, during the 80’s, and both made great plays that still stand out today. I will always remember the 1989 Florida game when the diminutive (5’ 7”) Wasden got open to catch a Reggie Slack touchdown pass on fourth down and a mile to beat the Gators as time expired. It probably was the single loudest moment in Jordan-Hare stadium till the “Prayer in Jordan-Hare” occurred in 2013.
Both men had great hands and uncanny ability to get open, often coming back to help a quarterback when he was most under pressure. That’s something that new Offensive Coordinator Chip Lindsey said Hastings has:
“He’s the type of receiver that QB’s love to throw to. He seems to be able to get open and know when to sit down and when to stop. The things that sometimes you say are not coachable, if you talk through it and show them, but it’s not really a technique. He’s just got a really good feel, and I think over time in football you’ve seen guys like that.”
And before he’s through, Will could be better than Weygand and Wasden because he has something those two Auburn greats lacked: speed. Auburn safety Tray Matthews told reporters last spring after the A-Day scrimmage how hard it is to catch Hastings in the open field, “He’s White Lightning, man,” Matthews said. “He’s so quick, fast and it’s hard to put your hands on him.”
Yet like Shane Wasden he’s not a big man. He’s listed on the Auburn roster at an optimistic 5’ 10,” 167 pounds, but he looks to be closer to 5’ 8.” Not the ideal size for a wide receiver in major college football. But what’s that old saying? It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the
And there is a lot of fight inside Will Hastings!