Ayden Hector, who played a major role in Washington State’s defensive secondary last season as a freshman, has been suspended from the Cougars’ football team for a rules violation, The Spokesman-Review confirmed with a school official Friday night.
The nature of the rules violation is unclear at this point, as is the length of Hector’s suspension.
The S-R learned of Hector’s suspension four days after confirming another freshman starter, quarterback Jayden de Laura, was indefinitely suspended from the team following a DUI arrest in Pullman.
Hector joined WSU’s football team as a walk-on a few days into fall camp last October, and he made an instant impact for the Cougars, starting the season opener at strong safety as Nick Rolovich’s team battled roster attrition in the secondary.
In his college debut, Hector tied for the team lead with seven tackles, helping the Cougars outlast Oregon State in Corvallis for the first win of Rolovich’s tenure. Though Hector didn’t start in WSU’s following game, at home against No. 11 Oregon, the freshman was one of the best players on the field, contributing to three turnovers in a 43-29 loss. Hector scooped up two fumbles and recorded an interception in the first half, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors for his efforts — seven days after de Laura won the award for his performance against the Beavers.
Hector made his second start at strong safety when WSU traveled to USC, making two stops in a blowout loss to the Trojans, but the defensive back didn’t travel with the team to the season finale at Utah after testing positive for COVID-19.
A former four-star prospect who played his high-school football at powerhouse Eastside Catholic, Hector initially signed to play at Stanford, but the school rescinded his admission after gathering more information about his involvement as a witness in a police investigation from 2018. In a social media post, Hector indicated Stanford’s decision to revoke his admission was not connected to the investigation, and authorities elected not to file charges after investigating for eight months.
Before WSU was scheduled to play at Stanford on Nov. 21, Cardinal coach David Shaw was questioned about his program’s recruitment process with Hector, responding “I don’t talk about admissions decisions and we recruited Ayden. It doesn’t take you long to do any digging to see what happened, but our admissions department made a decision which we understood. I had communication with Ayden’s family, they understood. Washington State, who I did not communicate with at all, they did their due diligence and brought them to their school and added them to their football team.”
As a high-school player, Hector was considered the third-best recruit in the state by 247Sports.com, as well as the nation’s No. 15 cornerback. He received a scholarship offer from every school in the Pac-12, along with offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin.