Hayden Hatten is honing his skills ahead of Pro Day

Mar. 24—Idaho receiver Hayden Hatten has been locked in on his pursuit of making an NFL roster since the Vandals' season concluded 106 days ago.

The Phoenix native had a packed offseason, including a trip to Orlando, Fla., for the Hula Bowl and temporarily relocating to Colorado to train at Landow Performance for Wednesday's Pro Day back at Idaho.

Hatten's three months of training have gone toward the "payoff" and answering the "money question," which is: how fast can he run the 40-yard dash?

No scout can debate the ball skills of the Vandals' all-time touchdown reception leader (33), nor can they challenge his ability to create separation. But what they can combat are measurables — speed, size and athleticism.

Hatten will try to remove that third obstacle during his Pro Day.

"It's not overwhelming at all," Hatten said. "I'm not doing anything crazy; I'm training. I've been training for football since I was 8 years old. It's like training for college football, but now I'm training for the NFL."

Hatten's measurables have become vital to his draft stock, so a trip to the Feb. 29 NFL combine would've been perfect, albeit an early opportunity to show his stuff. But no dice. The NFL didn't extend an invitation to one of the best receivers in the Football Championship Subdivision.

"I would've loved to have been there," Hatten said. "There are things that I can control, and I'm not on the committee to pick myself. My Pro Day is on the 27th, and what I can do is what I can do, and I get extra time to prepare."

That extra preparation has paid dividends for the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder as he continues his journey to the NFL.

"I just need to keep working at getting bigger, faster and stronger and becoming more of a man," Hatten said. "I need to keep honing in on my skills. Anybody can work on the three-cone drill or top-end speed. No one has ever said, 'He is officially too fast.' There's always something to work on. It's a never-ending battle. ... There's a reason why pros that are 35 are still practicing."

Shortly after Hatten arrived at the Centennial State, he competed in the 78th annual Hula Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 13.

The Hula Bowl is a top-three college all-star game and allowed Hatten to get on scouts' radars.

He scored the first touchdown of the game, a 3-yard reception, to put Team Kail in front of Team Aina 10-0.

Hatten continued to make an impact, turning another 3-yard reception into a 27-yard gain after breaking the initial tackle. It took three defenders to finally take him to the ground.

"It was a great experience, and I got to talk to a lot of NFL scouts," Hatten said. "That was a big opportunity for me as an FCS guy to get invited to something like that. I've had opportunities that guys don't typically get, and I just count my blessings. It was a fun experience, and it's one I'll never forget."

Hatten is projected to be either a Day 3 selection or an undrafted free agent. If the former Vandal finds his way on an NFL roster, he'll likely have to contribute on special teams. A situation he's more than comfortable in.

"If they ask me to do punt return, then wash their car, I'm in," Hatten said. "When I was younger, I did a lot of special teams, and I thought I was pretty good at it. ... I'm a natural athlete; I can play on special teams. But I also never got the opportunity to return kicks for the Vandals because we had such a great returner. But I would practice every day in case we needed it. I'm very comfortable catching punts, so that's a skill I plan on showing. I can catch punts; I can return punts."

Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, or on Twitter @TreebTalks