Hayes—who had offers from 12 schools around the county—recently claimed a top four of Stanford, Virginia Tech, Oregon State and Minnesota but the in-state Gophers provided the best fit for the St. Thomas Academy (Minn.) lineman.
"It just felt right," he said. "I really feel like the new coaching staff is going to turn the program around quickly. I really like the school and the idea of staying home and playing for the Gophers who I've been watching as I've grown up."
The Gopher coaches see potential on either side of the ball for the versatile 6-foot-3, 270-pounder.
"Well the offensive coaches want me for offensive line and the defensive coaches want me for defensive line so kind of both," he said. "I don't really have a preference I just want to be out there on the field as early as possible."
Hayes, who is widely regarded as one of the premier prospects in the state of Minnesota, said he wants to recruit other top players to join him.
"I'm definitely going to try and recruit other players to Minnesota," Hayes said. "I've talked with Andre McDonald and he's pretty cool. I told him this morning that I was going to commit and he was excited."
Although he still has a season left of high school football, Hayes explained what Gopher fans should expect to see when he eventually dons the Maroon and Gold.
"They can expect to see someone who is going to work hard and someone who will play until the last echo of the whistle," he said.