SAN ANTONIO - The look on Justice Hayes' face was priceless. For a guy that prides himself on speed, the stopwatch had to be broken.
Hayes was clocked at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Alamo Dome last week during the junior combine.
"I was mad," he said. "I was like, oh no, because I never ran a 4.55 before."
Hayes searched for an answer and got one.
"I wasn't aware it was a slow surface," he said. "But (the combine personnel) said a 4.55, 40 on a slow surface is more like a 4.44 or a 4.45. They said I'm fast. I'm able to get off my blocks real well. "
That reasoning made sense because Hayes looked like one of the fastest and most complete running backs at the combine. The 2011 recruit from Michigan has received offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Cincinnati.
Hayes planned to be in Iowa City this weekend for the Hawkeyes' Junior Day. Scout.com has awarded him three stars on its five-star scale, but he's likely to move up after his performance at the combine and with more offers expected to come in.
"Things went great," Hayes said of his combine. "I was able to showcase my talent. There was a lot of competition out here. I'm used to just seeing players from the Midwest and Michigan. It was more people from throughout the whole nation and I was able to showcase my talent against the best."
Hayes really is looking forward to getting a look at Iowa this weekend.
"Iowa is great," Hayes said. "I really want to focus on things on that trip. I want to take a tour around campus and really see what Iowa is like. I'm really considering Iowa and I want to see what the school is like."
"They're really nice. I like their personalities," Hayes said. "They send emails and alerts and keep in touch with me. I plan on talking to Coach Kirk (Ferentz) when I go there. I want to be able to bond with him."
Hayes just has started digging into recruiting.
"Since the season is over with, things are going to be picking up," he said. "In the next couple of months, I'll take a look at it and see where I want to go in terms of official visits and places I just want to visit."
Here are Hayes' thoughts on the teams that have offered him:
-"With Northwestern, that's obviously one of the best schools educational wise. They did pretty good this year as well."
-"Michigan State and Iowa, they're sort of similar to me in terms of them giving the running back the ball and their running backs doing well."
-"Then you have Cincinnati. They had a great season this year but Brian Kelly left. So, that's kind of unfortunate. To be honest with you, it kind of took away my interest in Cincinnati. But I'll still look at them."
More likely, look for the Irish to enter the recruiting picture according Hayes.
"I think everything is going to start coming from Notre Dame now," Hayes said. "I used to get stuff from Brian Kelly at Cincinnati but now it's Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. I got my Cincinnati offer when Brian Kelly was there. As a matter of fact, it was a week before he left. I get the sense that they still want me at Notre Dame."
Michigan also appears to be in the picture.
"Coach (Fred) Jackson came up to my school last month and told me that they're still looking at me and don't forget about them and stuff," Hayes said. "They said I should be getting offered pretty soon. But things are slow for Michigan. I don't want to step into a program if they're not successful, but Michigan is another school I'm interested in."
Hayes grew up a Michigan State fan but said that won't factor into his decision.
"I really can't be a fan now that I'm being recruited," he said.
In watching Hayes at the combine, I thought he looked like a smaller, faster Albert Young.
"I'm an all-purpose back," he said." I obviously can run, but I can block, too. I have the speed and I can catch. You don't really see too much of that out of running backs nowadays but I'm fortunate enough to have all of those talents."
Hayes said he's 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. That seems about right according to my eyeball test.
"I'm in the weight room now," he said. "That's why I'm going to give up track so I can focus on football. I'm doing speed training. Track the last two years took away my weight lifting. I didn't have that knowledge. I didn't know that. Now I know that was kind of holding back in terms of getting my weight lifting in."
Hayes is focused on several areas when sifting through potential schools.
"What's important to me is how they treat their players; how successful their running backs are and the education," Hayes said. "Also, I want to be able to stay close to home but not too close to home; probably the Big Ten. I'd like it to be somewhere where my parents and family are able to come see me play."