Jerome Hayes keeps cautious eye on UF

Linebacker Jerome Hayes is one of the most sought after football prospects in all of America. He's being pursued by every big program in the country including the University of Florida which has a roster hole at linebacker where there could be as few as five scholarship linebackers returning for 2005.

At 6-2, 225, Jerome Hayes was an impact player on both sides of the ball his senior season at Bayonne HS (NJ). His athletic ability rates him as a legitimate prospect at running back and linebacker at the next level, but most colleges see him as a linebacker.

"We lost the first round of the playoffs," said Hayes. "I finished that game with 16 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. On the season I ran for close to 1200 yards. I had 103 tackles and 64 solo on the season."

He is also on track to graduate and should have no problem enrolling with the freshman class of 2005. He told us, "School is going well."

The recruiting had slowed down as of Sunday night, but the visiting period is about to begin, we asked him just how busy it has been?

"Not too much, it will probably pick up tomorrow," he said, adding that "Nebraska, Florida, and Maryland are coming this week." He told us that Mike Locksley would be paying a visit to him on behalf of the Gators.

Hayes was part of an all-star cast at the Rising Seniors camp at Florida and also has been on his official visit to see the Gators. He visited "The Swamp" for the LSU game and came away shocked at the game day atmosphere. Still, having already made that visit, he won't be able to visit Gainesville officially with a new coaching staff but he has other visits lined up.

"I have three more visits that I will take in December," he said, "Rutgers, Miami, and Michigan State."

He remains open in his recruiting and will not name a leader at this time, but is keeping the door open for the Gators if certain coaches are on the staff of the next coach.

"I don't really have a top school right now" he said, but for the Gators to stay in the hunt, "It depends on if Coach Locksley and /or Coach Miller stays for them to remain in consideration."

So, the coaching additions and subtractions look like it could have an effect on another big recruit that is looking at the Gators. Things should start clearing up when a head coach is named to lead the program.

The staff will definitely have their work cut out for them landing this big time athlete. He truly seems open to any school but makes it clear as to why he will consider the Gators. The next few weeks are big if UF intends to land this one!

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