Kayce Hurd of Marshall knows what it’s like to lose, both on and off the field, but the Mavericks senior defensive lineman is motivated by those losses, and determined to use lessons learned from them to help earn him and his team some wins.

For Hurd, a dream was born at a young age.

“I remember when my nana told me, ‘Don’t give up on your dreams,’ and I told her that I want to go to the NFL and that I want to play on Sunday night,” Hurd recalls. “She said ‘OK,’ and when she was on her death bed, I promised her, ‘I will go to the NFL and will stop at nothing.’”

Despite experiencing hardships, Hurd has shown no signs of stopping.

“In a big way, what’s actually motivated us is all the stuff we’ve been through, with the 0-3 start and losing a player, especially for me and James (Washington), that was a big motivation for us. So now we’re playing for our fallen brother, an angel.”

Hurd said he also draws motivation from his family.

“They always come to my games,” he said. “They don’t care how far it is. It can be in New Orleans, they don’t care. As long as I see them and they see me, everything is cool.”

Tonight, his family will likely be in Jacksonville to see Hurd and the Mavericks take on the Indians.

“We’ve just got to focus on our team, focus on what’s happening on our end,” he said.

“He’s playing at a level this year that he hasn’t played in the past,” Marshall athletic director and head football coach Jake Griedl said of Hurd. “He’s brutally strong. He plays with an intensity that’s hard to match. Then his work ethic over the last year has really springboarded him into a leadership role. He’s kind of the anchor of our D-line, especially in the interior.

“When Kayce speaks, everybody listens and when Kayce plays, everybody notices,” Griedl continued. “I’m glad we don’t have to block him.”

Hurd has three college offers on the table but is in no rush to make a decision on what school to attend.

“I haven’t decided what college I want to go to,” he said. “I’m waiting for more opportunities to come up.”

“He’s a great kid,” Griedl added. “He’s one of those kids who I think will be a late signee for a college and will have a really successful collegiate career and with his work ethic, will be a very successful individual down the road.”

Perhaps that success will one day come on the football field on Sunday nights.

Kickoff for tonight’s game between Marshall and Jacksonville is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the newly renovated Tomato Bowl in Jacksonville. Tickets will be on sale today at the Y.A. Tittle Athletic Fieldhouse ticket window from 7 a.m. until noon. Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $3 for students. All tickets at the gate will cost $8.