Focus 2005

Madison County linebacker <b>Eugene Hayes,</b> as expected, is enjoying a banner senior season for the Class 2A top-ranked Cowboys. Madison County has opened the regular season with consecutive victories over Valdosta, East Gadsden and Live Oak Suwannee. Hayes, of course, continues to attract national attention from collegiate programs, including Florida State. FSU linebackers coach <b>Kevin Steele</b> has made a favorable impression on Hayes, who plans to attend Saturday's game vs. Clemson.

Madison County linebacker Eugene Hayes is soft-spoken off the football field. He certainly cranks up the volume on the field, however.

Hayes, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior linebacker, currently has 39 tackles (24 solo/15 assist) in victories over Valdosta High, East Gadsden and Live Oak.

That total also includes 15 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback pressures and six sacks.

The top-ranked Class 2A Cowboys are at home on Friday against Jefferson County and highly-touted quarterback Carlton Hill.

"It should be fun because Carlton and I are friends," Hayes said. "When I sack him, I will make sure to tell him I will be back."

The good-natured and talented Hayes also has played split end this season for the Cowboys, though he has not had a pass thrown his way. Even on offense, Hayes has the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.

"It (reception) will come. It will come," Hayes said and laughed on Wednesday.

"I like playing split end because I have a chance to throw a little crack block on somebody."

Hayes, considered one of the nation's top defensive players, has received more than 30 Division-I scholarship offers. He hopes to slice the list in the near future, though his top five remain the same -- Southern Cal, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida State.

Hayes admits he remains intrigued by the Trojans and does not mind the distance between California and Florida.

Hayes, however, also said FSU remains a strong favorite and he is impressed with Seminoles linebacker coach Kevin Steele, who has recently gotten involved in Hayes' recruitment.

Defensive ends coach Jody Allen recruits the Madison County area and also has formed a strong relationship with Hayes the past year.

Hayes plans to be on the FSU sidelines Saturday for the Seminoles' Atlantic Coast Conference showdown against Clemson. Hayes said Madison County teammates Brian Peacock and Tyrone Weatherspoon are expected to join him.

"Coach Steele is a good, fun guy. He's really easy to get along with," Hayes said. "USC is still my favorite -- it's about playing time -- but FSU is a favorite, too. FSU is playing really well (defensively) right now."

Although Hayes is currently playing linebacker, he said he wants to play defensive end in college. He expects to add 40 to 50 more pounds to his frame.

"I want to play defensive end because I don't like quarterbacks -- they are a bunch of pretty boys," Hayes said and chuckled.

Hayes also said he has been studying for his next attempt at the ACT next month. Hayes also expects big things from the Cowboys this season "because we all stick together. There's a lot of unity on this team."

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