Notre Dame commit shows skills in quest for undefeated season
If personality were a metric measured like the 40-yard dash or broad jump, Hayes would be destined for NCAA football stardom. He may be on his way, having already verbally committed to attend the University of Notre Dame.
He already talks like a professional, confident but grounded. He made sure to hype his teammates before highlighting his own skills. A common theme for Hayes is us-against-the-world narrative. This includes having a chip on his shoulder about where he is from.
“Who would have thought a kid from Brooklyn would be going to Notre Dame? he asked.
Hayes and his Poly Prep High school teammates back up their style with substance. After a victory Oct. 4 over Salesianum they are 6-0 this season.
Salesianum had gained the momentum. Poly Prep quarterback Gregory Charles scrambled away from the pressure. Already running a bootleg, he was off balance as he lofted a pass up the right sideline. The fluttering football was easily intercepted and Salesianum scored three rushes later to tie the game early in the third quarter.
Two Poly Prep possessions later, the Blue Devils ran a sweep to the right. Running back Chris Parker burst through the left side of the offensive line. Out in front, as Parker darted along the Poly Prep sideline, was pulling guard Hayes. The play went for an 80-yard touchdown. Hayes limped off the field after the play, cramps kicking in with an unseasonable hot temperature. He quickly shook off any affects to help the defense record a second consecutive stop.
“It was hard for me to keep up with Chris,” Hayes said. “CP, he’s so quick. You can miss a block and he’ll juke out three guys and still make the play.”
Hayes then delivered a key block for a touchdown run on the next possession, allowing Poly Prep to take control of the game, 28-14.
Showing his skills at guard, it was clear why many recruiters eyed Hayes as a division 1 offensive line prospect. He said that’s not his style; he prefers to paly with the aggression necessary on the defensive side of the ball.
“You miss a block in college and your quarterback gets sacked,” he said.
Hayes’ intensity was on display during a defensive stand during the fourth quarter. After getting up from a group tackle, he screamed at his own sideline, “We’re doing work out here.
His versatility was also showcased. Hayes played every position along the defensive line, both end and tackle positions in Poly Prep’s 4-3 scheme. Moving around keeps teams honest about running away from the 6-5, 275 pound lineman, and using two blockers to contain him.
“Nobody runs at me,” he said.
It seldom happened Oct. 4, keeping Hayes from completing many tackles. However, Hayes was able to create havoc on the opposite side by pushing opponents back. The attention he received allowed teammates to make plays like best friend Denzel Munroe, who registered a sack to win the game for Poly Prep, 28-20.
Hayes ability to play inside or out and his size suit him as a 3-4 defensive end, Notre Dame’s plan for the Brooklyn lineman. He is listed as a defensive tackle prospect on scout.com’s rankings; he’s also listed as the second-best player in the state of New York.
“My versatility got me 53 (division 1) offers,” he said.
Hayes already has an idea what it will be like to play at Notre Dame; he feels he’s gone through a similar situation for four years at Poly Prep. Poly Prep holds rigorous academic standards. As an independent school, Poly Prep will cross state lines to play tough competition. The Blue Devils’ final three contests are all on the road, including a game in Worchester, Mass. Salesianum was ranked as one of the best teams in Delaware.
“I don’t care who you are,” Hayes said. “It’s going to be a brawl.”
The lineman also takes considerable pride that Poly Prep only carries a roster of 26 players. His game routine is to play the full 48 minutes, every snap, including special teams.
“That builds character,” he said.
Hayes has been building his skill set as well. He and Munroe practice pass rushing moves every day at Munroe’s home. Hayes aid he has picked up techniques from his teammate.
“If he was 6-3, he’d be getting offers all over the place,” Hayes said.
Those moves include a spin move, which Hayes and Munroe agreed was unstoppable when well timed, and a stutter step proven to throw off the timing of opposing linemen. Hayes touted his swim move most of all.
“If I’m facing a guy my size, the swim move is coming,” he said.
Hayes will need every technique to continue Poly Prep’s quest for an undefeated season and a state championship. They’ll probably come in handy when he plays on Saturdays the next two years for the Irish.