While Hillary is being recruited as an athlete, being recruited to play either cornerback or wide receiver for the Badgers, there's no question that the Badgers see Hayes as a pass-rush specialists at defensive end.
John Rodenberg, his coach at Moeller High School, has seen the impact Hayes brings to the defense for the last two seasons.
"His pure speed, athleticism makes his a legitimate Division 1 defensive end," Rodenberg told Badger Nation. "He's got great speed off the ball, great hands, solid strength and he's only going to get stronger. He's learned how to ramp up his motor. That might have been lacking at times last year, but he's learned to take it up another notch."
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Hayes, a three-star athlete and ranked the No.50 defensive end by Scout.com, had six sacks as a junior, obviously learning some traits from his dad, Cincinnati Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes, who was also the outside linebackers and special teams coach under Barry Alvarez from 1995-98.
That guidance earned Hayes offers from the likes of Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. After going on an official to Oregon the last weekend in September, Hayes got another positive impression from Wisconsin on his second visit.
"He likes Wisconsin a lot, and I think he feels at home there because his dad coached there and they still know some people that there were there when his dad coaches," said Rodenberg of Hayes, who also visited and camped at Wisconsin with his dad over the summer. "There's a good support system there for him."
Part of that support system, according to Rodenberg, is Wisconsin tight end coach Joe Rudolph, who has been actively recruiting Hayes since last season.
"I never suggest a school, but I'll tell them how I feel about certain schools and certain recruiters," Rodenberg said. "With Jesse, I'll listen to what his needs are and present different questions to him. Joe Rudolph has done a fantastic job in Cincinnati. He will always call me and ask me how things are going. He makes the kids feel good. When you recruit Cincinnati, you really have to develop a relationship with the coaches and he's developing that relationship with a lot of coaches in this area. Joe does it right and is recruiting these kids as student-athletes. I have nothing but good things to say about Joe about the way he does things and conducts himself."
Not only has Hayes improved on the field, the talented defensive end has grown off the field into a leader, a big assist in that department to current Michigan State freshman Marcus Rush. With Rush leading the defense last season, the current Spartans lineman took Hayes under his wing and the results, according to Rodenberg, has shown.
"Jesse is always willing to learn, willing to listen and very coachable," Rodenberg said. "He's a very good natured kid and he can rally a team when they need to rally. Except for one game, we've trailed in every game and Jesse has the ability to come to the sidelines and keep everybody calm. Having that veteran like Marcus, Jesse didn't need to be the star as a junior. He was allowed to be Jesse and this year he understood he had to take a leadership role, and he's taken that pretty well."
Hayes has an official scheduled to Nebraska this weekend, which could be the end of his recruiting process. Where he goes and when he will officially make that decision is still a mystery, but Rodenberg knows one school that Hayes is sold on.
"He's taking a lot of time to think about what every school brings to the table," Rodenberg said. "I know he likes Wisconsin. I don't want to say they are the leader, but I know he likes them (UW) a lot."