Summer Drills

Madison County standout <b>Eugene Hayes</b> has been keeping busy this summer in preparation for the Cowboys' upcoming season. Madison County won't have time to ease into its schedule either, opening with perennial power Valdosta. Hayes, meanwhile, continues to attraction national attention in the recruiting circles. He might also play a little offense this season. Click here for an update to see where Florida State stands on Hayes' current list.

Summer is quickly winding down for high school football players.

Of course, that simply means players must accelerate their strength and conditioning pace in preparation for the start of practice next month.

Madison County star linebacker Eugene Hayes is trying to make the most of his time as well.

The Class 2A state runner-up Cowboys certainly don't have any time to waste, opening their season against perennial power Valdosta.

Hayes, who played both linebacker and defensive end last season as a junior and is considered one of the country's top defensive players, may also be used on offense this season in goal-line situations.

"I may play tight end or wing back on the goal line. That wouldn't be bad," the yes-sir, no-sir polite Hayes said.

Of course, Hayes' strength is on defense.

A 6-foot-2, 220-pounder with a long wing span, Hayes, who doesn't turn 17 until next month, had nearly 20 sacks last season in addition to 130 tackles. He returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown in the Cowboys' spring game against Daytona Beach Mainland.

Hayes projects as an outside linebacker in college.

Hayes continues to attract national attention in the recruiting circles. His top five at the moment includes Southern Cal, Louisiana State, Oklahoma, Miami and North Carolina State.

Hayes, who was born in Miami, also stresses hometown Florida State remains a strong favorite as well.

"They are all about equal right now," said Hayes, who is not yet academically qualified but has made big improvements in the classroom.

While Hayes' recruitment only expects to intensify this fall, his main priority is preparing for the upcoming season. Hayes and the Cowboys would love nothing more than to erase the disappointment from last year's 27-0 defeat to Chaminade in the state championship.

"When that last second went off the clock, we looked at it (scoreboard) and wanted to remember it because it wasn't a good feeling," Hayes said.

"We've had a good summer. Everyone is working hard in the weight room, getting better at agility drills. We have to be ready -- Valdosta is our first game."

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