Henry A. Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) won the Maryland class 4A state title Dec. 3, but the Pumas aren’t ones to revel in such accomplishments for long. By Dec. 7, head coach DaLawn Parrish had his squad back in the weight room, ready for offseason lifting and workouts.
“That’s how it is around here,” laughed cornerback Damon Hayes. “Even though I’m a senior I was in there with the rest of the guys lifting and staying in shape. It was cool to go out on top, but it’s died down now. Back to work. Time to get ready for college.”
Indeed, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Hayes’ attention has turned towards college recruiting as Signing Day approaches in February. The Wise corner has been committed to Rutgers since the spring, but will explore a couple of his other suitors before signing a Scarlet Knights Letter of Intent.
Hayes is heading to Boston College for an official Jan. 13, and the weekend after he’s thinking about checking out Wake Forest. Meanwhile, Maryland, the hometown school, has made a pitch and could get a closer look should the Terps offer a scholarship.
“I was actually supposed to go to BC [Dec. 11], but something came up and now I’m not doing anything before the dead period,” Hayes said. “But I am interested in checking them out. They offered out of nowhere, so before I make the decision of a lifetime, I figured I better get up there. I know two of their players, John Johnson and Cam Moore, and I’ve been in touch with their coaches. I’m excited to see what it’s like up there.
“And I’ll be seeing Wake at some point too. They haven’t offered yet, but their coaches are in touch and said they’d offer if I visited. My coach actually went to Wake and he’s told me some really good things, so I want to get down there too.”
As for Maryland, new defensive backs coach Aazaar-Abdul Rahim stopped by Wise Dec. 9 to make his pitch. He let Hayes and his coaches know of the Terps’ interest and said he’d be reviewing the corner’s senior film with UMD head coach D.J. Durkin.
“When Maryland came by I was pretty excited. I’m not going to lie, I’m very familiar with Coach Rahim,” Hayes said. “I knew him when he coached down here [at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C.] and I used to train with him at one of his camps over at Duval High School [Lanham, Md.]. He’s a great DB Coach and a really good guy.
“So if Maryland offered, that would make this a very, very tough decision for me. I really like Maryland.”
The Terps hadn’t shown too much interest prior to Abdul-Rahim’s visit. Ex-coach Randy Edsall didn’t trek through Wise, and former interim head coach Mike Locksley was more interested in the Pumas’ other corner, Myles Wolfolk, than Hayes.
“I really hadn’t been in contact with Maryland, but it would be a huge offer for me,” Hayes said. “I wouldn’t commit on the spot or anything; I’d have to officially visit first. But I like the idea of staying home, playing for my hometown school and having my family see me play. I know some of the guys committed there too like Parnell Motley and Mike Viti; we all train with the same DB trainer, Roman Morris. They’ve been talking up the Terps, so it would be cool to play with them if I had that chance.”
Hayes has been in College Park before, but not anytime recently. If offered, he’d likely take his official in late January, after BC and Wake.
Of course, Hayes is still committed to Rutgers and plans to remain so for the time being. He was considering decommitting after head coach Kyle Flood was let go, but new coach Chris Ash made his pitch and left Hayes impressed.
“Coach Ash has called me and he’s coming in-home to visit. He sounds like a great guy and a great coach,” Hayes said. “So I’m staying committed, and I always have love for Rutgers. They were the first major school to offer me and I do like it up there. I’m going to check out a couple other places just to make sure I made the right decision, but I’m staying committed to Rutgers.”
Hayes is coming off a senior season where he recorded four interceptions. He also starred at wide receiver, but said corner is by far his best position.
“I did really well this season. I bounced back from a little injury and had a really good year,” Hayes said. “I really worked on my DB skills in the offseason, and it showed this year in my press and zone coverage. I was happy with how I played.”