Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Penn State defensive end Jerome Hayes pondering whether to petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility.

Right before noon Saturday, Jerome Hayes will take his final walk out of the Penn State locker room, through the tunnel and on to the Beaver Stadium field.

Or not.

Hayes said Wednesday that he is considering petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.

“It's definitely something I will talk to my parents and talk to Coach [Joe] Paterno about,” Hayes said.

He said he would sit down and make the decision on whether to petition or not in the month-and-a-half span between Penn State's final game against Michigan State and whatever bowl game to which the Nittany Lions are invited.

Hayes appears to meet NCAA requirements regarding a sixth year. In 2008, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against Oregon State. The NCAA stipulates that in order to be granted a sixth year, a player must not play in more than three games or 30 percent of the scheduled games in a given. The 2008 game against the Beavers was the second game of the season.

Hayes arrived at Penn State in 2005 and redshirted as a true freshman. So the 2008 season is his fifth in the program. He missed roughly half of the 2007 season with a right ACL injury.

Hayes said he hasn't really thought about whether he will decide to apply for a sixth year but offered a cost-benefit analysis of playing another year for Penn State.

“The pros will be coming back and getting a full year of starting under my belt,” Hayes said. “[The] cons are definitely me getting hurt and not being able to play at the next level.”

For now Hayes, is treating Saturday's noon tilt against Indiana as the final time he steps on the field at Beaver Stadium.

He is unsure what to expect when his name his announced on Senior Day but has been talking to last year's seniors -- guys like A.Q. Shipley, Lydell Sargeant and Anthony Scirrotto -- about it.

“They said, 'It doesn't really hit you until they call your name.' It's going to be emotional, no doubt about it,” Hayes said.

Penn State nose tackle Ollie Ogbu heaped praise on his fellow defensive lineman

“For a guy to have two knee surgeries and grind it out day in and day out and just show that resiliency to come back on the field and be that sparkplug and leader we need, it just shows you what kind of resiliency he has,” Ogbu said. “And I look up to that and that's something I would like to do and emulate.”


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