Playing at Auburn is "A Dream Come True" for Will Hastings
Wide Receiver Will Hastings (Photo: Auburn Athletics)
“Honestly, when you see him? No. But when you go down to the weight room, he’s got records on our boards. He’s an athlete, don't be mistaken. He’s very quick, he’s very shifty. He’s a competitor.”
That was running back Kerryon Johnson’s response when asked Tuesday if wide receiver Will Hastings fits the mold of “stereotypical SEC receiver”. The 5’10” 172-pound sophomore caught three passes in Saturday’s loss to Clemson, for 29 yards. His three receptions were second on the team, behind Senior Marcus Davis’ five.
For Hastings, playing receiver at Auburn was not in the plans, at least for him. If you look in the 2016 Auburn football media guide, Will Hastings is classified as a kicker. He saw action in two games last season, which includes a kickoff in the LSU game.
Hastings journey begins in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was a star for Pulaski Academy. In his senior season, he recorded 2,040 yards receiving. That stat has only been tallied one other time in the state of Arkansas. His Bruin team also won state championships during his freshman and senior seasons. Following High School, Hastings had options for continuing his career. Three Division 2 schools offered the talented receiver: Ouachita Baptist, Henderson State, and Southern Arkansas University. But, after being recruited by Arkansas High School legends, Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee, Hastings believed that he had the chance to see significant playing time in the SEC.
“I did a kicking camp here (Auburn) in the summer going into my senior year. I called Auburn a couple of days before signing day (2015), and asked them “what’s going on?” said Hastings, on his decision to come to Auburn. “Because I kept coming to the games, and they kept recruiting me. They said that “we want you to be a preferred walk-on.”
When Hastings accepted the offer of preferred walk-on, he was expected to be used exclusively as a kicker. Until, one moment of the 2015 season changed his journey. “When I first came here, I did not make (a receiver spot) fall camp my freshman year. Then, they called me when Duke (Williams) got in trouble, and they said “hey, we need you to be another body at fall camp.” said Hastings, “When the winter came, I did agility drills, I thinks that’s where it really took off. In the spring, I did some good things at receiver, and they moved me there.”
Being from Arkansas, Hastings has gotten the most out of playing under wide receivers coach, former Auburn Tiger star, Kodi Burns. “Kodi is definitely the man. He truly believed in me when I did not believe in myself. He loves us, and we love him, and he gets us better every day.” Hastings also mentioned how Gus Malzahn likes to pick on him from time to time. “Coach Malzahn likes to bring up how he destroyed P.A. 62-7 in 2001. He likes to give me a hard time about that.”
Now that Hastings has found himself in the rotation at wide receiver, he would like to gain weight. His goal is to reach 190 pounds, while keeping his speed and quickness at its current level.