Former LSU back among several former athletes to compete in Red, Rock & Blue contest
Matt Flynn never told Jacob Hester to run “Giant Power.”
“Matt came in the huddle and didn’t call a play,” said Hester, the former burly LSU running back. “He said ‘You know the play. Go up there and run it.’”
Hester took the handoff and plunged for a 2-yard, game-winning touchdown in the 2007 game against Florida in a rocking Tiger Stadium, a victory that propelled LSU to the national title.
It’s one of the many defining moments of a four-year LSU career for Hester, an unheralded fullback out of Evangel Christian who morphed into a bruising back in the nation’s toughest conference.
Hester returns to Baton Rouge on Friday to make his debut at the Red, Rock & Blue Celebrity Softball Game. The game kicks off the 17th annual Doucet/Begnaud Invitational, a weekend of slow-pitch softball and kickball tournaments and concerts that benefit Louisiana military charities.
Hester is the latest to join a group of former LSU and Louisiana star athletes and coaches at Friday’s 6:30 p.m. softball game at Cypress Mounds. The event will include photo opportunities and autographs for fans — rain or shine. An indoor facility is available.
Hester isn’t the only newbie to the game. Former Grambling coach and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams, ex-LSU defensive end Marcus Spears and former LSU offensive lineman Kevin Mawae will make their first showing in the game.
Other big names include Joe Horn, Glenn Dorsey, Bennie Logan, Early Doucet and Michael Clayton.
Hester, now a father of three boys who lives in Shreveport, hasn’t played a non-football event like this since his days at LSU, 2004-07.
Back then, Hester, Flynn and defensive lineman Kyle Williams played in a offseason softball games on campus with other LSU football players.
Hester said he wasn’t allowed to play in such events under his previous NFL contracts.
A third-round pick by the San Diego Chargers, Hester made $1.1 million in Year 1 with the team and went on to play four more years in the NFL.
He was cut in September by the Denver Broncos.
Is his career over? Not necessarily, the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder says.
“I wouldn’t say I’m officially retired,” Hester said. “Right situation came along, I’d entertain it.”
Hester is moving past football now. He’s the spokesman for a local bank in Shreveport, expects to attend every LSU home game this year and is in the process of opening his own athletic training facility in the city.
He’ll host a football camp that will include current freshman QB Brandon Harris in Shreveport on Saturday, a day after playing in Friday night’s softball game.
The game is part of a much larger event. A record number of teams — more than 70 — are expected to compete in the weekend’s kickball and softball games at Oak Villa.
Three bands are set for a concert Saturday night at the Varsity Theatre: Everclear, Soul Asylum and Eve 6.
Jacques Doucet, sports anchor at WAFB and the event’s founder, expects to donate more than $50,000 to charities this year.
Doucet has been trying to land Hester for years. After all, he’s the star of one of LSU’s most electric games.
“A lot of LSU fans call it the greatest game they’ve watched in Tiger Stadium,” Doucet said.
LSU’s 28-24 win over Florida in 2007 was classified by some as college football’s best game that season.
The Tigers overcame three 10-point leads, and Hester’s 2-yard touchdown run on third and goal capped a wild 60-yard, game-winning drive.
Hester converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive, including a fourth and 1 at the Florida 6-yard line that set up the score. The two fourth-down conversions and the touchdown came on a play called “Giant Power,” Hester said.
Flynn didn’t have to call the play in the huddle the third time.
After the game, Hester described the locker room with one word: Pandemonium. Most starters, including him, needed intravenous fluids (IVs) following the game.
“I’ve never been that tired in my life. I was just emotionally and physically exhausted,” he said. “You knew we had just played one of those battles.”