RECRUITING: In-depth interview with Jerome Hayes

Colleges all over the country are seeking the services of Jerome Hayes, a big time LB/RB from Bayonne HS (NJ). The 6-2, 225 lb star runs 40 yards in 4.6 seconds and brings the heat when he makes contact. What are his latest thoughts and impressions and what has he been up to lately?

Jerome Hayes told us his summer was good and he was able to visit a few places that he is interested in possibly calling his home as a collegian. "I went to the Rutgers camp. I also went to the Rising Senior's Camp at The University of Florida and made a trip to Miami unofficially." He also has had a busy summer working out on his own and with his teammates. "I have been trying to improve my speed, vision, and overall knowledge of the game. Physically I've always been able to stay ahead of the competition, but now that I'm a senior and getting close to playing with the big boys. I want to try to be a step ahead as far as the mental aspect of the game. I've just been getting after it in the weight room."

He has gained a lot of knowledge from his experiences this summer. "I picked up a couple of things at the camps, whether it be correcting my stance or even positioning myself on offense or defense. I learned a lot about reading an offense from a linebacker position and reading a defense from a running back position." He even got some coaching from a player or two: "I talked some football with Channing Crowder and he helped me out."

He expects a big season this year for his team. "We are very explosive and the fastest team I have played on. We are young, only 6 seniors and the rest are underclassmen, but we expect a lot of good things. Of himself, he told us what he brings to the table when out on the field. He had this to say about his offensive prowess. "I bring speed and power. I need 27 touchdowns to have the single season and the all time record for touchdowns at my school. Anything above 27 will be justice for me. I finished with 18 last year." He may be more talented on the defensive side of the ball. On his qualities, he said: "My ability to run the alleys, shoot the gaps and run side line to side line. I think I'm one of the best on defense. I like to hit." Does he have a preference at the next level? "Defense or offense, I'm going to go wherever I'm needed."

He doesn't start school until September 8th so he is able to only concentrate on his team goals right now. He's going away in a year to college, so how will he spend his free time this year? "I always hang out with my friends and my cousins. Just hang out with the family. Next year I will be away at college and I won't be able to spend as much time with them."

Hayes is a versatile athlete more than just on the football field, but he sees the grid iron as his ticket to success. "I have played varsity and AAU basketball since the 8th grade, but I'm not going to play this year." Much to the chagrin of his basketball coach, "I'm just going to play football."

When it comes to making his college choice, he has a few criteria: He wants to have a good relationship with the coaching staff. Academics are very important and the academic support system. He also is very interested to see how the football team's graduation rate is. "I want to see how many players the college graduates. I want to have a coach that I can go to and talk to when times aren't the greatest, that's something I will look for." Will it matter how far away the school is from his home in New Jersey? "It really doesn't matter to me I'm just looking for the right fit."

We asked him about his favorite team growing up: "I was an Ohio State Buckeye through and through growing up." His favorite player followed suit. "Eddie George was my favorite player."

He gave us a list of six schools he likes right now. He listed the Miami Hurricanes first. "I like the coaching staff. The program speaks for itself."

The Florida Gators were his second mention, "I like the way they ran their program while I was down there. It seemed like a nice place for me. Coach Miller is a good guy, I got to run through some drills with him and he really helped me."

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights interest him because. "It is close to home. They have a budding program and the facilities are second to none."

The Tennessee Vols made the list for a couple of reasons, "It's a school I haven't visited yet, but I hit it off with Coach Slade a lot and he is a real interesting guy. I want to see what Tennessee has in store for me."

Michigan State is on the list, "They have been with me since the beginning. They are one of the first schools to offer me. They have had a plan for me since day one and they have stuck to that plan from the beginning."

The Virginia Tech Hokies round out his current list of school choices because, "It's not that far. It's a great program, and I love how they play defense."

Hayes was very articulate and we asked him for some personal insight into himself as a person and a player. He said, "I feel like am a born leader on the football field -- I love to lead. Good times and bad times, I take it on my shoulders, whatever the consequences may be. Whether we have a win or a loss, I put it on me and do my best to get my team ready for the next week. Being a leader is an honor. It's great when times are good, but not many want to be a leader during the bad times. When there is pressure, most people aren't interested in being a leader."

On the field or off, Jerome Hayes can make an impact. The school that he chooses to play his college ball at is going to have one heck of a player and individual to add to their roster.

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