Freshman Corner Damon Hayes Brings Higher IQ to Final Stretch for Rutgers Football

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- What's the difference between game one and game nine for a true freshman? As his third-down role evolves, Rutgers cornerback Damon Hayes breaks it down fresh off his pick-six at Minnesota.

Rutgers freshman cornerback Damon Hayes on his first-career interception and touchdown...

It was just exciting. The team needed a play, and an opportunity came. I just capitalized on it. That was all. … The offense was kind of struggling a little bit putting some points on the board, so when I caught it, it kind of shocked me a little bit. Once I realized I had it, I was just like 'score.' I outran the defender and it was just great. … I looked at it about five times, then I had to let it go. I've got to prepare for the next game.”

On the need for a bye week...

Always, good developmental practices like this today. I can rest my body a little bit, watch more film, just a little more down time and get my mind right.”

On midseason development as a true freshman...

I'm way better. I'm smarter. My IQ in the game is probably the biggest aspect this whole time. I'm getting my speed up a little bit more. My press [coverage] is getting better. I'm getting smarter. That's the biggest thing I'm happy about. … Coach [Aaron] Henry is very big on watching film. At first I kind of wasn't listening too him because I thought it was more about going out and playing. Now that I'm watching more film and studying the game more, it helps me out on the field a lot.”

On significant role on third downs...

Practices on Wednesdays, the focus is third downs. I just take those practices and I just try to go hard and just make sure I know what I'm doing. In the game, I'm just going out there flying around. Watching film, watching practice, I see what I did wrong. By the time the game comes, I just make plays. … I love [the corner blitz]. Any time I'm a corner and get to blitz, that's a plus. That doesn't come every day.”


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