Over 20 years of coaching will educate you about things. Over half of that being in the NFL means you are now educating everyone else. Not a small deal at all when you are a recruit with over 20 offers and trying desperately to figure out the best situation.
Jay Hayes, the Defensive Line coach for the Cincinnati Bengals for the last seven years, gives his son, Moeller HS defensive end Jesse Hayes a great sounding board for questions and a little perspective. But based on what world Jesse has had front row seats to see, the elder Hayes feels perspective is already there.
"Well, he sees those guys all the time. He asks them questions, see how they do things and he gets an idea of what it takes to make it to the NFL," Coach Hayes said. "He's also been a ball boy for us, and it's just been a big part of his life."
As a defensive end, having a defensive line coach for a dad probably doesn't hurt either. It may have contributed at least some to his performance last year which consisted of over 60 tackles and close to double-digits in sacks. And at 6-4 and 230 lbs., his frame is ideal as an edge rusher.
With this many offers, though, it's hard to keep a firm list, because the offers seem to keep coming in. There's been a gamut of trips over the Summer to try and put at least a face, so to speak, to just some of the written offers he has right now. "Jesse has been to Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Cincinnati and West Virginia so far," Coach Hayes said. And he said he could still take some more.
As far as the trip to Nebraska, the father always keeps the father's perspective, because he knows that wherever they visit, it's not him but his son who has to go there for the next four to five years. "I liked it, but I'm not the one who has to go there. It's his decision. But I thought it was nice," he said.
Coaching is a bit different though.
After all, Bo Pelini has been in the game a bit himself, The San Francisco 49ers being just the first professional stop for Pelini, who would finish his stint in the NFL with Green Bay before heading down to the collegiate level to be a D.C. "We have coached against each other when he was in the NFL. I have probably known Bo since back in 90 when he first started wanting to get into coaching," Hays said. "I like him. I would have no problem my son playing for him. He's a good man with a good staff. I enjoyed their presentation. It would be a good situation for Jesse."
Nebraska's move to the Big Ten certainly doesn't make a contender out of a team which wasn't beforehand. The offers Hayes has now stretches from one coast all the way to the other. But it definitely doesn't hurt. "It's attractive in the sense that if I have an off week, there would be more games closer," he said. "But again, he is the one who has to make the decision."
It would be easy for someone of Coach Hayes' experience to take this ship by the wheel and steer it where he believed it should go. He's a coach in the NFL, after all. One would probably not argue his perspective and how valuable it could be down the road. But that's now how this is going. That's not how Coach Hayes wants his son to come to his decision. "I answer the questions he has if he asks them. Again, it's his life and he's the one who is going to have to put in the time, the work and everything else," he said. "I'm just there if he needs me. It's his decision to make."
As far as a list of favorites, the elder Hayes says there is one, but that's for his son to figure out. "Yeah, there's a list. But it's his, not mine," he said. "And I know that the time changes as far as when he'll decide. Some days he's feeling good about the list. Some days he's not. He could make the decision next month or maybe sooner, maybe later."
But Hayes did say of this list that while he can't speak to the entire thing, he did say this about the Huskers. "Nebraska's in good shape right now. I can say that," he said.