Ryan Hayes' decision to commit to Michigan didn’t come as a surprise to those in and around his recruitment, but it did come out of the blue. There was no build-up to the moment for the Traverse City (Mich.) West lineman. He simply picked up the phone and made the call.
“He just decided this weekend,” said Traverse City West coach Tim Wooer. “He called me and said, ‘yeah I’m going to commit today.’ (Laughter). That’s how it goes (with him). That speaks to who he is. He said he was going to make his decision and I think shortly thereafter he tried to reach out to the other programs that recruited him and I think that speak to who he is. He is just a classy classy kid. I am excited for him and I’m extremely excited for Michigan.”
Needless to say, the coaches in Ann Arbor are feeling pretty darned good also. Earlier in the week they added four-star Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield to the fold. They then further addressed that the need in the trenches with Hayes. However, the question of whether he will line up at tackle or tight end remains. Michigan has discussed both options with Hayes, and Wooer believes his star pupil is talented enough to be a standout at either spot.
“I think he is in a win-win situation and I think Michigan is in a win-win situation,” said Wooer. “He is an extremely athletic player for his size. We had 2011 (Traverse City West) graduate Jake Fisher who originally committed (to Michigan) with Rich Rod, then during the transition he ended up going to Oregon. He ended up being an All American and second round pick with the Bengals and is having a very successful NFL career. I think these two kids are carbon copies of one another. Jake was a tight end defensive end in high school and Jake was a two-sport athlete. Ryan is a three-sport athlete. He is the No. 1 pitcher on our baseball team throwing 85-88. He is a 15 (point) and 10 (rebound) guy in basketball. He is just a great athlete. From a strength standpoint once he decides to just focus on just one sport his ceiling is going to be through the roof. He is just an incredible talent.”
“I think he is talented enough to play tight end. He is not going to take the top off the defense, but he is an incredible target. He has got good range, good hands, is athletic, and he would be one heck of a run-blocker in the heavy sets, which they use. But by the same token he would be an excellent left tackle down the road. He is going to be able to do whatever Michigan wants him to do.”
While Hayes’ ultimate is still to be determined, his striking physical similarity not only to Fisher, but also other former offensive tackle targets of Michigan tackles and tight ends coach Greg Frey is hard to ignore. In addition to Fisher, Frey also recruited former Michigan standouts and current pros Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, and former Indiana standout and current pro Jason Spriggs. That track record resonated with Hayes and his family. So too did their familiarity with Frey.
“Greg recruited Ryan’s brother (Connor Hayes) at Indiana and he recruited Jake,” said Wooer. “I think that there is a sense of comfort. There was somebody that (the Hayes’) had a connection with and a relationship with. I thought it played an important role. It might not be everything, but the position coach is who you work with day in and day out. Outside of the academic end of it, that’s probably the most important person in making a decision, so I think it played a fairly big role from a football standpoint.”
With his commitment now behind him Hayes is free to shift his entire athletic focus toward his high school teams. That also likely played a role in the timing played a role in the timing of his decision. This is one of those kids for whom it’s not all about him, and that is the attribute that his high school coach has come to appreciate most.
“He is a quiet, humble young man,” said Wooer. “It’s so rewarding as a coach to have a player that is a high character kid. You don’t have to worry about him getting in trouble for doing stupid things. He is a great student, a great person, he is humble, and he is a hard worker. When you see that it does your heart good. When you’ve got perfect kid like this and you’re super happy for them when (success) happens.”
“He isn’t concerned with how many stars or how many offers he had… he is just going to do his thing.”