Jalin Hyatt’s Journey: From Dutch Fork to the Big Apple part one

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Published: May. 11, 2023 at 6:52 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Jalin Hyatt has been a household name in the Midlands for a while now. Before he was a New York Giant or a Tennessee Volunteer, he was a Dutch Fork Silver Fox.

His coaches knew what was coming long before the rest of us.

“Sixth grade? Seventh grade? I knew he could really run,” Dutch Fork head football coach Tom Knotts said. “His daddy would always show me flag football film at the YMCA over here where nobody could touch him.”

“When we ran our first 40-yard dash time in the ninth grade. He just destroyed all the boys in his class, so I took him to the varsity class,” strength and conditioning coach Noah Dixon said. “He blew those guys away.”

Hyatt was lifting over 200 pounds by his freshman year, weighing only about 125 pounds himself. He graduated in 2020 with three state championship rings, his story now regular shop talk in the Silver Fox weight room.

“I never had to say anything about ‘c’mon Jalin, let’s go get it done.’ He’s ready, always ready,” Dixon said. “They know that’s what it takes and that’s what we’re going to accept. That’s what it is.”

Hyatt picked up 16 offers to places like Virginia Tech, Miami and Michigan by graduation.

But the hometown program wasn’t biting. Hyatt had met with then-head coach Will Muschamp - even running a 4.3 40-yard dash at a South Carolina camp right in front of him.

Something was holding them back, even as Hyatt showed out in his senior season with the Foxes.

“His exact words were: ‘Well, are you going to throw the ball to him on 3rd-and-10?’ And I said you’re daggum right I am,” Knotts said. “When we threw the touchdown against Dorman in overtime, Ty Olenchuk to Jalin over there in the far corner, it was right in front of Muschamp. It was 2nd-and-goal in overtime, which won the game right there.”

The Gamecocks never offered. Neither did Clemson. Coastal Carolina was his only in-state option. But three SEC schools took notice - including the one in Knoxville where he felt right at home.

Fast forward a few years, it was seemingly déjà vu at the NFL Draft.

“You get a player like Jalin Hyatt that can torch Alabama for five touchdowns, you’ve gotta draft him higher than 70 or whatever he was,” Knotts said. “You get a player like that who can do what he did here, you’ve got to take him at South Carolina.”

Part Two will air on Friday night, taking a look at Hyatt’s career at Tennessee and his story as it stands as he embarks on this new chapter in the league.

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