Hayward: Notre Dame, What's Your #

Notre Dame sends Aaron Hayward mail on a regular basis. The four-star athlete from Penns Grove High in Carneys Point, N.J., received an in-school visit from an Irish assistant coach back in November, and got an invite to the program's upcoming junior day.

He won't be able to attend, but what Aaron Hayward really needs from Notre Dame is a phone number. He doesn't know how to get a hold of anyone on the Irish's staff.

"And that's kind of weird, because every other school recruiting me, I have a number for," the 6-foot-½, 197-pound Hayward said.

That's roughly 17 schools Hayward stated. Rutgers has offered a scholarship. Penn State, Maryland, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Iowa are coming on strong.

Hayward is hoping Notre Dame will soon do the same. His second highlight tape will be finished this week and mailed out to the schools showing interest. The Irish are the team Hayward and his older brother grew up rooting for, and they will receive a copy.

"Last year they didn't do too well, but they have potential," Hayward said. He also avidly watches Rutgers. "And just the people that came from the school. It brings a lot of rich tradition and is great education wise.

"Coach (Charlie) Weis is an offensive guru. He knows offense really well. I like what they do a lot. It would be an awesome school to go to."

Hayward himself, is an awesome player.

Most schools are recruiting him as a receiver on the next level, and a few see him as a defensive back. At Penns Grove, he plays running back, so the ball can be in his hands as much as possible.

As a junior, Hayward and his 4.52 second speed in the 40-yard dash ran for 1,363 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also had 162 yards receiving and two scores. He returned one punt for six points. On defense, Hayward recorded 48 tackles, had three interceptions, forced two fumbles and recovered another one from his free safety spot.

"Receiver is what I like the most, but I'm really a playmaker," Hayward explained. "You get the ball in my hands, I'm going to do something with it."

Hayward is versatile in the secondary as well. He played cornerback as a freshman and sophomore. He can bench press 300 pounds and reps out 315 pounds on the squat rack.

Hayward has taken trips to Rutgers and Maryland. He is hoping that he'll have all the offers he wants, and attended all the camps he can in the next couple months, so he can make a verbal commitment by the end of July.

"Number one is education," Hayward said of what he is looking for. He has a 2.8 GPA. "I do want to go to the NFL. If it happens it happens, but I'd rather get my degree then go to the NFL. Next is the type of the offense they run, whether it's a passing offense, a balanced offense or a running offense. Next is location slash playing time."

Distance isn't a problem regarding Notre Dame.

"That's not that far flying, but driving hecks yeah," he said with a laugh.

Hayward is currently running track. He finished seventh in the state last year in the 200-meter dash. His personal best is a 21.71. He can run the 100-meter dash in 10.6 seconds, and took 11th overall. He was also a state qualifier in the 400-meter dash, and can break 50 seconds.

Hayward's uncle A.D. Brown played running back at Pittsburgh and West Virginia before playing four seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories