Undersized Grand Rapids product Jaier Harden making quick impression at Davenport

Ottawa Hills football alum returns home to DU
Jaier Harden
Posted at 2:55 PM, Aug 30, 2021
Undersized Harden making an impression

Jaier Harden is certainly easy to miss - standing at just 5'7" according to the Davenport football roster, which may be a bit of a stretch.

"You can't think about stuff like that," Harden said on his size. "You just have to give it your all, it doesn't matter what size you are, you just have to go out and play."

Harden has always been an underdog on the football field.

After rushing for over 2,000 yards in his Ottawa Hills football career in high school, he would go on to sign with Central Michigan.

"It was just a decision I had to make," he added. "I felt like I could play at a D-1 level so I had to take the opportunity. I had to put myself out there and see what I could do."

He would spent one semester in Mount Pleasant before looking to transfer.

Jaier Harden

Sparky McEwen began recruiting Harden when he was hired at Davenport University and was quick to take him in as a transfer.

"To be given an opportunity to play at Davenport after I decided to not go there the first time, it was just a blessing," said Harden.

The Panthers are loaded at runningback this fall, returning Seth Acda and Kyshawn Richards, but Harden has quickly made an impression and will see game reps this fall.

Jaier Harden

"He's an extremely electric young man," McEwen said. "I didn't think he'd be able to crack the lineup this soon, but he'll be playing for us this year, we're excited about him."

And Harden is perfectly fine with doing whatever the team needs.

"I came out here to work, regardless of if I was on the bench or playing, I'm here to support the team, I just want to see us win," he added.

As an undersized runningback from a struggling high school football program, Harden is showing those behind him that anything is possible with a great work ethic.

"The biggest thing for me is to inspire other to achieve what they can achieve," he added. "It doesn't really matter where you come from or how big you are, how tall you are, how fast you are, all that matters is how much you work."

The Panthers will open the season at home this Saturday when they host Truman State at noon.