The long road back for Hayes

OU safety Quentin Hayes was all but forgotten in spring 2012 but has fought and clawed his way back into OU's rotation.

All preseason camp whenever anybody on the defense was asked about somebody who was going to turn heads, the answer was Quentin Hayes.

It confused a lot of people since Hayes had been virtually forgotten and nobody really thought he stood a chance to make a valuable contribution for the 2013 squad.

Following an indefinite suspension in spring 2012, a lot of people thought that would be the last anybody would hear about Hayes and OU. Hayes never quit, though.

"It was tough last year," Hayes said. "It kind of messed with your head, but I love football so it was something you've just got to do."

That meant no longer being on scholarship. That meant no longer having the option of playing 2012. That meant losing a year of eligibility.

But that also meant a chance for redemption. Throughout the 2012 season, Hayes was encouraged to keep his head held high and that good things would come.

"Every week they'd let me know, ‘coach asked about you. Coach wants you back over there,'" Hayes said. "So it just kind of kept me going, and I'm here now."

With freshmen safeties Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas on campus, a lot of speculation has been it's only a matter of time before Hayes and senior Gabe Lynn are on the bench.

Hayes and Lynn couldn't have started the 2013 season in a more positive manner in OU's 34-0 victory against ULM. Hayes recorded two tackles and his confidence is bringing some positive energy to the secondary.

"Quentin Hayes adds a dimension to the secondary we haven't had with his speed and athleticism to cover," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.

And Stoops is allowing Hayes and the rest of his defense to be put in good situations. The defense is more set up to the personnel that is on campus instead of trying to force the personnel into the scheme.

Mike Stoops wasn't the only one praising Hayes for his performance Saturday. OU coach Bob Stoops had nothing but positive things to say for how Hayes fared. He wants to keep those compliments coming.

"I got into a situation and got in trouble," Hayes said. I had to do what I had to do. It's cool, though. I enjoy hearing the coaches talk good about me, and I just have to live up to the things they say about me."

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