Dylan Hairfield made an impression on Bassett football coach Brandon Johnson the first time he ever worked out with the Bengals' varsity squad.
Hairfield busted his knee on the team’s first practice, and played through it, despite Johnson telling him he should go see the trainer.
It’s been that fight, grit, and determination that made Hairfield stand out on Johnson’s team, and made him stand out to college coaches.
Hairfield signed his letter of intent on Wednesday to continue his football career at Concord University in the fall. The Bengal is the first to sign with an NCAA Division II program on national signing day since Johnson joined the Bengals program in 2017.
Hairfield was joined at his signing by his parents, brother, grandparents, and aunt, as well as a host of his Bengals teammates.
“It means the world for them to be here. It’s just great,” Hairfield said Wednesday at the school. “I can’t even put it into words. It’s just one of those things where I’ve just got to go play and go get it done. I can’t describe it.”
Hairfield was a 3-year varsity player with the Bengals, twice being named Second Team All-Piedmont District as a defensive back, and being named All-Region 4D honorable mention as a junior. He was a starter as a sophomore for the Bengals after impressing Johnson with his intangible skills beyond just play on the field.
“There were probably better athletes at that time than he was, but his heart was huge,” Johnson said. “You can’t coach heart. When a kid has heart and determination he’s going to be a good football player.
“It’s very special. I have chills right now thinking about it because I’ve seen him work hard, I’ve seen his body change, I’ve seen his mentality change. He’s become a great football player, but he’s an even better person. A great kid.”
Hairfield plans to study chemical engineering at Concord, a public university in Athens, West Virginia.
“I really like the coaching staff up there and they’ve got a good program going on, so I wanted to be a part of that,” Hairfield said. “I’m mainly looking forward to just playing ball, getting my degree, and going out and making a name for myself.”
The Bengal said he learned a lot from his time playing for Johnson that he’ll take with him to the next level.
“Mainly just you’ve got to work as a team. You can’t get it by yourself,” he said. “You’ve got to have somebody to help you out. Just work with the team, be there for somebody when they need you.”
Now, he’ll carry those lessons to West Virginia, where Johnson said he expects “big things” from the Bengal.
“As soon as he committed I sent out a tweet like, ‘Y’all haven’t heard nothing from Dylan. He’s just now beginning,” Johnson said. “I think he’s going to go to Concord and he’s going to do big things up there. I think they’re going to be shocked at the type of football player they’re getting. His potential, he’s got untapped potential right now. It’s through the roof what this kid can do if you allow him to do it. I’m really excited for him. He’s going to a good program, a good school, and I can’t wait to see his next four years.
“He has really made the most of what God has given him and just ran with it. I’ve just enjoyed watching his progression throughout the three years I’ve had him.”