CRESTVIEW HILLS — You know you're a big man on campus when the college president seeks you out to take a selfie with you.
After Domonique Hayden set two school rushing records in Thomas More's 49-6 rout of Westminster on Saturday afternoon, Saints Coach Jim Hilvert presented him with the game ball, Athletic Director Terry Connor had him pose for a photo in front of the scoreboard, and President David Armstrong snapped a selfie with him.
Hayden smiled the smile of a football hero, a role he's played since he was a star running back at Lexington Christian Academy.
Hayden helped LCA to a Class A state title in 2009. He finished his high school career with 8,765 yards rushing and receiving, and state records for rushing touchdowns (120), total touchdowns (138) and points (837).
Hayden's nickname at LCA was "D-train," and he's kept it at Thomas More. Whenever he breaks a long run or barrels over a would-be tackler, a train whistle blares over the public address system.
That sound effect was used repeatedly Saturday as Hayden ran around and through Westminster. The 5-foot-8, 212-pound senior carried 28 times for a school-record 336 yards and four TDs before sitting out the fourth quarter. He had a 52-yard scoring run less than three minutes into the game, and a 70-yarder on the Saints' first snap in the second half.
Hayden also became Thomas More's career rushing leader with 4,788 yards.
"Whatever yards and touchdowns I rack up, that's not of importance," he said. "It's about doing everything I can to help my team win."
Hilvert wasn't surprised by Hayden's humble words after his record-setting day.
"He's all about team. He's a selfless guy," Hilvert said.
Coming out of LCA, Hayden hoped to play Division I football. His size kept bigger schools from offering him, so he went to Division III Thomas More.
It's been a perfect fit.
He rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game of his sophomore year.
Hilvert never doubted Hayden would bounce back.
"He never missed a beat in his rehab," the coach said. "He kept working hard and never did get down in the dumps.
"He did it with a smile on his face, overcame that adversity and kept on truckin'."
As a junior, Hayden ran for more than 2,000 yards, had 28 TDs and earned Division III All-America honors.
In four games this year he's rushed for 748 yards and 12 TDs.
Hayden, a communications major, described himself "as an old-school back, a low-to-the-ground, hard runner. I love running up the middle, giving contact instead of receiving it, and fighting for all the yards I can get."
Hayden has decent speed (4.5), and he's a sticky-fingered receiver. But power is his calling card.
"Until you're here and you have to tackle him, you don't realize how much he wears on you," Hilvert said. "And you've gotta tackle him for 60 minutes, and he keeps getting bigger chunks as the game goes on."
Hayden's talent, skill set, work ethic and attitude have caught the attention of NFL scouts. The Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans have worked him out.
Paul Rains, who coached Hayden at LCA, said NFL teams have contacted him, asking about Hayden.
"Domonique's on a lot of people's radar because he's got that special package," Rains said. "He's strong, he's able to block, he's got tremendous hands as a receiver out of the backfield, and he's a load carrying the ball.
"And you won't find a better person than Domonique."
Hayden admits it was his childhood dream to play in the NFL.
"But that wasn't my focus when I got to college. I wanted to do my best for Thomas More and help us make it to the national championship.
"If I do get the opportunity to make it to the NFL one day, that'd be great."
It wouldn't surprise his mom, Monique, if her son got that chance.
"Domonique has always taken the talent he was given, run with it and done the best he can," she said.