SPARTANBURG, S.C. (courtesy wofford.edu) — Hayden Jones ’25 sees a lot of people who look like him when he walks across the Wofford College campus. That wasn’t the case for his grandfather, Doug Jones ’69, the first Black student to graduate from Wofford.
“It’s nice to see faces like mine and to have people to turn to when we’re going through struggles,” says Hayden Jones, an undeclared major from Honea Path, South Carolina.
The Jones family attended the Order of 1854 Heritage Society brunch on Saturday, Oct. 9. The society celebrates students who are direct descendants of a Wofford graduate. The brunch honored the 126 legacy students in the classes of 2024 and 2025.
Hayden Jones is a third-generation Terrier. His aunt, Moneefa Jones ’95, and uncle, Jarvis Jones ’04, also are Wofford graduates.
Doug Jones was the second Black student to attend Wofford, joining Albert Gray, who came in 1964. When Gray left to fight in the Vietnam War, Jones was on his own for two years.
“It means a lot to me to have him here,” Jones says. “Things were a lot different when I was here. But I got a good education. I owe Wofford a lot.”
Hayden Jones says he’s driven to uphold the family’s tradition of success. The enormity of the shadow cast by Doug Jones isn’t lost on him.
“My grandfather is a pretty big deal at this college,” he says. “That’s a hell of a lot of pressure. He said I didn’t have to come here, but I felt like I did.”
It’s really happening
Gavin Taylor ’25, an undeclared major from Columbia, South Carolina, grew up dreaming of playing football at Wofford like his dad, Brian Taylor ’95. He wasn’t sure that would happen, until he got the offer he was looking for late in his recruiting process.
“I was going to go somewhere else and not play football,” says Gavin Taylor, an offensive lineman who is redshirting this season. “But once I got the opportunity to come to Wofford, I knew there was nowhere else I wanted to go.”
Brian Taylor says it’s been “surreal” watching his son’s journey to Wofford.
“I didn’t think he was going to come here or play football, and he’s doing both,” he says. “It’s going to be fun for him to see how his life will change with a Wofford education and through the connections he’ll make.”
Valuing the family tradition
Wofford wasn’t on the radar screen of Kierstin Smith ’24, even though her father, Brandon Smith ’02, was a graduate. That changed after a visit to campus when she was a senior in high school.
“Growing up, I wasn’t really into Wofford,” says Kiersten Smith, an undeclared major from Greenville, South Carolina. “Then I visited, and I loved it. There’s something about the family tradition that makes it special. It’s challenging. You’ve definitely got to lock in and get your work done.”
Brandon Smith says it’s gratifying to see his daughter charting her own Wofford course.
“It’s awesome to know your child is walking down the same hallways you walked down,” he says. “This is an amazing opportunity, and I’m extremely proud of her.”
Nettles Green Jr. ’24, an undeclared major from Columbia, South Carolina, is the fourth generation of his family to attend Wofford. His father, Dr. Nettles Green Sr. ’89; grandfather, James Green ’57; and great-grandfather, William Nettles ’28 all made their place at Wofford.
“It’s really cool knowing we have that connection,” Nettles Green Jr. says. “It’s something we can share.”
Nettles Green Sr. says he’s proud that his son chose Wofford and will experience some of the same things as his predecessors.
“There’s just something unique about being a legacy,” he says.