The Notre Dame football team kicked off the 2008 season with its annual Media Day activities on Friday, Aug. 8.
Through three seasons as the offensive
coordinator and running backs coach at
Notre Dame, Mike Haywood has proven that
he can not only develop talent in veteran
players but with inexperienced players as
well. Heading into his fourth season,
Haywood coaches a backfield full of more talent
than he's had during his tenure at Notre
Dame and all are players he not only helped
recruit but grow at Notre Dame.
Heading into his fourth season in 2008, Haywood not only coaches a backfield full of more talent than he's had during his tenure at Notre Dame, but he will also take over a large portion of the play calling.
Haywood has coached running backs since 1994 at four different schools and tutored rushers that received All-America and all-conference accolades. He helped develop the talent in players that etched their name in their respective school's records book and produced future National Football League players in Darius Walker, Cedric Benson, LaBrandon Toefield, Domanick Davis, Kevin Faulk, Rondell Mealey and Cecil Collins.
Now Haywood has James Aldridge, Armando Allen Jr. and Robert Hughes, the top rushers in 2007, back for 2008. Aldridge started five games as a sophomore last year and registered the most carries and most yards for the Irish. Allen started four games during his first season and proved to be a rushing and receiving threat out of the backfield as he ranked second in carries and fifth in receptions. Hughes started one game as a freshman in `07 and had the highest average yards per rush on the team and scored four touchdowns. The three players combined to rush for 1,105 yards on 260 attempts (4.3 avg.), adjusting on the fly to the rigors of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Haywood returned leading Irish rusher Walker in 2006 and watched him become just the fourth player in Notre Dame history to post consecutive seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards. Under Haywood's tutelage, Walker posted two of the 10-best single-season rushing totals each of Walker's last two campaigns as he gained 1,106 yards in 2005 and 1,267 yards in 2006. Walker also became a great receiving option out of the backfield as he recorded the most single-season receptions in school history by a running back in '05 and `06 and owns Notre Dame's career record for catches by a running back. Haywood helped with the development of Aldridge to the college game in 2006 as Aldridge was Notre Dame's second-leading rusher with 142 yards gained on 37 carries. Haywood also aided the growth of fullback Ashley McConnell after starting fullback Asaph Schwapp was lost for the 2006 season because of a knee injury in the second game.
A key figure in Notre Dame's offensive explosion in 2005, Haywood was named NCAA Division 1-A Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. The honor recognized not only Haywood's outstanding coaching credentials, but also his stellar work in the community throughout his coaching career.
Haywood's return to familiar turf in South Bend was the latest stop in a successful career as one of college football's top assistant coaches.
A four-year football letterman at Notre Dame (1982, 1984-86), Haywood joined the Irish staff after serving two highly successful seasons at the University of Texas. Now entering his 21st season as a coach, he served as Texas' running backs coach and co-special teams coordinator for two seasons - and was promoted to recruiting coordinator for 2004.
Haywood tutored All-America running back and 2004 Doak Walker Award winner Benson, who finished the 2004 regular season ranked first in the Big 12 Conference and fourth nationally in rushing at 160.4 yards per game. Benson led the conference and finished fourth nationally in scoring with 20 touchdowns (19 on the ground) - and set an NCAA record by rushing for at least one score in 37 straight games. The Longhorns ranked second nationally in rushing in 2004 (302.4 yards per game), ninth in total offense (466.3) and 14th in scoring (35.0 points).
In his first season at Texas in 2003, the Longhorns ranked fifth nationally (and first in the Big 12) in rushing at 241.0 yards per game. Texas' 2,892 rushing yards were the most for the Longhorns since 1977 and Benson rushed for 1,277 yards (seventh on the Texas all-time single-season list) and 20 touchdowns (third on the Texas all-time single-season list) en route to all-Big 12 honors. Benson led the nation in scoring at 11.6 points per game and was selected with the fourth overall pick in the first round by the Chicago Bears.
Haywood previously served as LSU running backs coach from 1995-2002 and also was the Tigers' special teams coordinator in 1996-98 and 2001-02. During his time in Baton Rouge, Haywood helped produce some of the finest running backs in LSU history - and in those eight seasons the Tigers played in six bowl games and won five of them.
In 2001 and 2002, Haywood developed Toefield into one of the Southeastern Conference's top backs. Toefield tied an SEC record with 19 rushing touchdowns in 2001 and finished the year with 992 rushing yards on 230 carries en route to first-team all-SEC honors. The 2000 Freshman All-American ran for 475 yards in 2002 despite missing four games due to a broken forearm. Davis proved to be the perfect complement to Toefield as he rushed for a team-high 931 yards and seven scores in 2002. In 2001, Davis recorded 406 yards and five TDs during the regular season and added 122 yards and a Sugar Bowl-record four rushing scores in Toefield's absence. Toefield (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Davis (Houston Texans) were both selected in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft. Davis went on to become NFL Rookie of the Year in 2003 after leading the Texans with 1,031 yards rushing and eight TDs.
Haywood also was instrumental in developing Faulk, Mealey and Collins into three of the most productive running backs in school history. Faulk left LSU with virtually every rushing record, while Mealey capped his career ranked in the top 10 in both rushing yards and rushing scores. Both were selected in the NFL draft following their respective senior seasons. The New England Patriots chose Faulk in the second round, Mealey was drafted by the Green Bay Packers (seventh round) and Collins was drafted in the fifth round to the Miami Dolphins.
As special teams coordinator, Haywood had LSU among the best in the SEC in nearly every statistical category. In 2002, the Tigers led the SEC and ranked seventh nationally with a 24.1-yard kickoff return average and third in the league in punt returns (13.9-yard average). Led by punter Donnie Jones' 44.0-yard average (fifth NCAA, second SEC), they also stood 12th nationally in net punting on the year. In 2001, LSU ranked eighth in the NCAA in net punting (39.6 avg.) and the Tigers were tops in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing just 15.2 yards per return. Individually, Davis earned second-team all-SEC honors after leading the league in punt returns (13.8 avg.).
Prior to his stint at LSU, Haywood was the position coach for three all-Mid-American Conference players at Ball State from 1993-94, while helping the Cardinals claim the 1993 MAC crown. Wide receiver Brian Oliver earned all-MAC honors and was tabbed the league's freshman of the year in 1993 and, one year later, running backs Tony Nibbs and Michael Blair earned all-conference honors. He also served as the Cardinals' co-special teams coordinator during his two seasons. In 1993, the Cardinals punt return team not only led the MAC but was the best in the nation.
Haywood started his coaching career at Minnesota as a graduate assistant in 1988, and then went to Army as an assistant coach from 1989-90. He served as the Cadets' assistant defensive backs coach and special teams assistant his first year before assisting the defensive ends coach and coordinating the special teams in 1990. Haywood then moved to Ohio University in 1991 where he tutored outside linebackers and assisted with special teams for two seasons.
Born Michael Anthony Haywood on Feb. 26, 1964, in Houston, Texas, he played flanker during his freshman season at Notre Dame (started five games and caught 13 passes for 128 yards in 1982), then moved to cornerback where he was a significant contributor and starter from 1984-86 (13 career starts, 78 tackles, five interceptions, two blocked kicks).
Haywood is a 1986 graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree from the College of Arts and Letters.