Illini Legends, Lists & Lore: July 22, 2018

Illini Legends, Lists & Lore: July 22, 2018

Happy 35th birthday on Monday to Illinois football receiver-turned-cornerback Kelvin Hayden.

A four-year starter at Chicago Hubbard High School, Hayden attended Joliet Junior College for two years prior to joining coach Ron Turner's University of Illinois roster. The 2002 National Junior College Player of the Year rarely tasted defeat during his two seasons with the Wolves, posting a 22-1 record. JJC won the National Junior College championship in '02 and Hayden was the Most Valuable Player of the title game.

In his first season at Illinois, No. 6 was quarterback Jon Beutjer's primary target. Hayden paced the Illini in both receptions (52) and receiving yards (592), including a career day against California when he hauled in 11 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown.

Hayden was converted into a cornerback in 2004, his senior year, and played well enough to earn second-team All-Big Ten honors. That year he intercepted four passes, averaging 21 yards per return, and broke up six other passes. His 71 tackles ranked fifth among Illini defenders.

Hayden was a second-round pick (60th overall) of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2005 NFL draft. Though he only started once in his first two NFL seasons, he was a starter in each of his last four years with the Colts.

In Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007 against the Chicago Bears, Hayden turned a five-point Indy lead into its final 12-point winning margin when he returned his first-ever NFL interception 56 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Hayden would go on to add 12 more interceptions in his final six seasons, including one with the Atlanta Falcons and one with the Bears. A hamstring injury during preseason drills caused him to miss the 2013 season and though he re-signed with the Bears in early 2014, he would be released later in the year.

This past May, Hayden became engaged to actress Taraji P. Henson, star of the TV series "Empire" and the movie "Hidden Figures."

Illini Birthdays

Today: Perry Range, basketball (58)

Monday: Will Krug, baseball (26)

Tuesday: Ali Bastianelli, volleyball (21)

Wednesday: Jenna Smith, basketball

Thursday: Jaelyne Kirkpatrick, basketball (21)

Friday: Rich Erickson, football (72)

Saturday: Meghan Kolze, soccer


By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is