Roy Hurst: 'It's sports or the street -- I chose sports'
By Tim Olsen
December 10, 20008 | USU senior cornerback Roy Hurst
has seen a lot in his 22 years. Growing up in east Oakland,
Calif. he was forced to grow up quickly and make a decision
most are not faced with a life in sports or a life
on the streets.
"When you're in a neighborhood like that either you
join the kids on the street and do that type of stuff,
hustle around, or you get into sports and try to make
a way out with that," Hurst said. "Some do it with education,
but it's mainly sports or the street life and I chose
to play sports."
Hurst started early, playing multiple sports. He said
his first love was basketball, but he also played baseball
and then he found football.
"I played football on the street a couple times and
fell in love with it, and then I started playing it
in high school," he said. "That kept me away from the
Family influence has also played a major role in Hurst's
life and decision-making. His mom, dad, grandmother,
four sisters and close cousins have been big factors
in keeping him on the right path.
That path led him to Santa Rosa Junior College in
Santa Rosa, Calif., where he played both cornerback
and safety. Hurst recorded 37 tackles with one pass
break up and one forced fumble in 2006, to earn first-team
all-NorCal Conference honors.
After his sophomore year, the Aggies came calling.
However, before USU could have him, they had to pass
inspection from his grandmother, who is the head of
the family and ran everything.
"She wasn't going to let us get out of the house without
asking every single question about Utah State, Logan,
and us as a coaching staff," USU cornerback coach John
Rushing said. "She made sure she did her background
check on us and made sure she was sending her grandson
to a good place."
When it came down to it, Utah State just made sense
to Hurst and his family. It allowed him to stay relatively
close to home, which was an extra incentive as he had
a daughter born close to signing day. He also liked
the coaching staff, the safety of the community, and
the academic reputation of USU.
In the end, it was a series of violent events that
cemented Hurst's decision to attend USU.
Hurst had been training with one of his cousins, a
fellow football player who had recently signed with
Arizona State. About a month before Hurst's cousin was
supposed to leave, he was injured in a shooting at a
nightclub. That was the final straw for Hurst.
"A couple weeks before that we were out at the same
kind of club environment and a shooting happened there
and my cousin that I treat like my brother got shot,"
"That was when I was like, 'I have to get out of here,
this isn't the place for me," and I got out of the bay
area life as quickly as possible. It was a great opportunity
to come here to one of the safest places in America."
Once on campus, it didn't take long for Hurst to fit
"I think sometimes those environments help you grow
up faster, you don't have a choice. You've got to grow
up and be a man and grow up and take care of business,"
Rushing said. "A lot of times some guys come in and
take awhile to develop, he came in mature and ready
to go and he fit right in and did everything we asked
During his junior season, his first at USU, Hurst
played in all 12 games making 36 tackles and tied for
the team lead with three interceptions while playing
safety. This season he switched over to cornerback and
has 33 tackles and two interceptions through 10 games.
More important to Hurst is the fact that he's set to
graduate after this semester.
"A lot of people don't get the opportunity to get
their school paid for, let alone go to college. For
me to go to college, get my school paid for and do the
thing I love is a tremendous opportunity," Hurst said.
"I'm going to have to make sure I take advantage of
my degree because I know a lot of people don't finish
and get that degree. I know that if I wouldn't have
played football I probably wouldn't have been able to
go to college because college is expense. I'm glad that
this path took me here."
Rushing could not stress the importance of scholarships
"That's the beauty of a scholarship for any of these
kids whether they come from a bad background or a great
background, it's a chance to get your education paid
for," he said. "But for Roy it's his means of survival,
it's his key to the future. His scholarship and playing
football was one of his only options, this was his ticket
to his future."
Now with graduation looming and the season coming
to a close, the future is at hand for Hurst. The sports
management major said his immediate plans include heading
home to spend some time with his family and especially
After the holidays, Hurst said he plans to return
to USU and prepare for the Aggies pro day where he will
showcase his talents in front of NFL scouts. Depending
on the direction that path takes, he plans to pursue
a career in coaching as well as help his family start
a "soul food" restaurant.
Hurst is one of many student-athletes who have helped
Utah State become nationally recognized for its outstanding
graduation rate. Just this year the American Football
Coaches Association recognized USU as one of 46 teams
in the country that graduates more than 70 percent of
its football athletes.
Utah State was one of only three WAC schools to be
recognized, and the only school from the state of Utah.
"Our student athletes are some of the best students
academically in the country, we're top of the WAC all
the time," said Director of Annual Giving for the Big
Blue Scholarship Fund, Tom Hale. "We have a good bunch
of students here as well as some great athletes students
and athletes. Roy is a very fine man, it's neat to see
that it [the scholarship] has changed his life."
"The sky is the limit for Roy." he said. "The beauty
of him is that he can go into any situation, he can
go back into the inner city and work there and do a
great job there, as well as go into any place across
the country and do a great job."
Rushing also said players like Hurst make it easy
for him to go to places like east Oakland and recruit
the kids in that area. He said Hurst will be a hero
when he returns home because people have seen what he's
come through and where he is now.
To those in a similar situation, Hurst gave this advice:
"Look to the role models in your life. The roads get
hard, but just steer yourself down the right path,"
"You're going to make mistakes, just bounce back and
learn from the mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, I
made a lot of mistakes coming up and just took those
bad situations and turned them into good and learned
For Hurst and those like him, the value of the Aggie
football program and other USU athletic programs are
measured by much more than wins and losses.
"It changes lives and that's the neat thing about
the scholarship fund and what if provides for student
athletes," Hale said.