Notre Dame’s Hayden Bourgeois turns focus toward recruiting _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- 2015 All Acadiana Football Defensive MVP Hayden Bourgeois of Notre Dame High School

The business of Hayden Bourgeois helping Notre Dame of Crowley to the Division III state championship never got in the way of his college recruiting.

With the state championship achieved more than a month ago, Bourgeois has turned his attention to his own recruiting process, having already taken an official visit to Nicholls State with a visit to Northwestern State on tap this weekend.

“I thought of playing football in college when I was younger,” Bourgeois said. “I knew you had to be really good, have size, ability and athleticism.”

Bourgeois distinguished himself as the Class 2A Defensive Player of the Year and The Advocate’s Small School Defensive MVP. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was also recently selected second team All-American by MaxPreps.com.

Bourgeois was the driving force behind a Notre Dame defense that was considered one of the state’s top units regardless of classification.

The Pios (14-0) recorded eight shutouts and allowed a touchdown or less in three other games, including the state championship game where they limited Riverside to an early field goal in a 13-3 victory.

Bourgeois finished with 64 tackles, including 5½ tackles for loss, with 15 pass breakups and two interceptions.

Moreover, Bourgeois was a valuable member of the Pioneers special teams with an 18.4-yard average on 24 punts and 19.3 average on kickoff returns. He also specialized in short-yardage situations and scored eight touchdowns on 11 carries.

“I didn’t let the recruiting part get into my mind during the season,” said Bourgeois, the Class 3A state javelin champion last year. “I was focused on bringing us to a state championship and got that accomplished. I kept that out of my head the whole season and just worried about my team. Now that’s it over, I’m starting to really think about it now.”

The scope of Bourgeois’ recruiting has been narrowed to Nicholls and Northwestern of the Southland Conference after receiving offers from Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas-Monticello and Louisiana College.

Nicholls State took a significant step in its first season under coach Tim Rebowe with a 3-8 record that was capped by a season-ending victory over Southeastern in the River Bell Classic.

The program’s direction and Rebowe’s ability to relate to players appealed to Bourgeois during his official visit last weekend.

“Coach Rebowe is doing a good job rebuilding the program,” Bourgeois said. “Everybody’s excited about the new (recruiting) class coming in and about next year. I see it as a good program on the way up.”

Nicholls has indicated it would utilize Bourgeois as a strong safety on defense, while Northwestern is recruiting him as an athlete, capable of playing on either side of the ball and on special teams.

“I’m excited, I’m thinking hard about it and wherever I go I’m going to enjoy it,” Bourgeois said. “I love football.”