Both groups of fans then (or the optimist and pessimist at war inside us all) will be most glad to learn of the Wednesday night commitment of St. Thomas (Mendota Heights, Minn.) defensive tackle Anthony Hayes. At 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, Hayes gives the Cardinal the big body to plug up the middle that has to be one of this class' top priorities, considering the depth chart.
"I committed last night," Hayes told The Bootleg in a Thursday night interview. "Stanford was always a dream school to me. They hadn't talked to me that much, but I always heard it was a great academic place. Then one of players from my school was recruited as a preferred walk-on [2010 offensive lineman Conor McFadden] so when [Coach Drevno] was here for that, he watched my tape and watched me, and came down and watched track practice. He thought I had good speed, so he showed it to other coaches. Last Friday, Stanford said they were going to offer, and this Monday or Tuesday the official papers got faxed to my school."
Hayes certainly didn't wait long to make his decision. He says he didn't have to.
"It's a great opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity…" he said. The academic prestige of Stanford and the academic quality of education I'll be getting is unprecedented compared to anywhere else. Where I'll be going will open huge job opportunities. I'll be able to get a job wherever I want, to get internships from Stanford."
Stanford has found distance to be a major barrier in the previous recruitment of Midwest prospects, but for Hayes, the chance to see a new part of the country may actually be a positive.
"It's not that big of a decision-maker," he said. "It doesn't matter. I want to get out and see everything, so it's a great way to see the West Coast. I haven't been around the country or traveled around that much."
Once on the Left Coast, Hayes sees himself making an early impact at his position of two-gap nose guard, the man front and center in a 3-4 defense.
"They see me as a two-gap nose guard," Hayes said. "They really want me for the defensive line, since they want defensive linemen. Stanford runs a three-man front so I'll be the middle. They might even play me as a freshman; I wouldn't red shirt. … They said I have good size and a lot of strength at nose tackle, and think I'd be a great two-gap player for them. They said I have great speed, enough to get to the ball and make plays."
It was OL coach Tim Drevno, recruiting McFadden, who first met Hayes and who has served as primary contact throughout the recruitment. Hayes reports talking to Coach Drevno "a bunch on the phone," as well as Coach Harbaugh and his future position coach, defensive line coach Randy Hart.
"They're really great guys," Hayes said. "I know they've got the program going in the right direction. I think it's a great time to jump on board and be a Cardinal."
For highlights of Hayes on the field, see his YouTube highlights or his Scout.com highlights, accessible through his profile. Or listen to the take from one of the analysts who knows Hayes best: Hayes himself. I thought I did really well last year, controlled the middle well, and I hope get better for next year," he said. "The main thing I'm working on is speed. I'm running track and sprinting, and one of the football coaches is the track coach, so sometimes we'll do short-distance stuff when they do long distance.
"Plus, I'm always working on my strength. It's the best quality I have. On bench, I've maxed at 305, on squat I do 425 four times. At the 100, 13.8 is best time. I ran a 40 last year in 5.5, and hope I'm down to 5.3/5.2 this year.
"I'm growing a little bit still -- grew an inch over the summer from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-3. Maybe I have one more inch in me."
Hayes' football skills have helped his Cadets continue their role as a Minnesota powerhouse.
"We always, usually every single year, make States. This year, we lost in the state semis by one point. It was a tough loss, but we've gotten over it and are working hard for next year. We lose a decent amount of good seniors, but we have a lot of good people coming back on defense. We have a tradition of excellence and don't expect anything less. We expect to make and win a state championship. I'm looking to have a great season next year, not just as an individual, but as a team. That's our dream and our goal. We're not going to stop until we achieve it."
Hayes' football talent has also attracted the eye of coaches around the region, though Stanford was the only school to officially offer. Like the Cardinal, all of Hayes' other suitors were recruiting him on the defensive side of the ball.
"Minnesota wanted me to meet with their head and defensive line coaches," he said. "They had come to my school. Wisconsin came today and said they were still interested in me, even though I committed. Boston College is really, really interested, and coming next week, but we haven't talked since I committed to Stanford. Wyoming I told I committed to Stanford but they still want to know if I'm still interested in being a Cowboy, but I told them no. They would offer if I recommitted, but I don't see myself doing that.
"Ohio State already offered two out-of-state defensive tackles, but said if I came to camp, we would compete for scholarship spot sat camp; those two scholarships would go up for grabs. Michigan State came to school on Monday and seemed really interested. I'm not sure if they're going to offer."
Given the other interest -- and visitors -- Hayes will have in the months to come, given that there are still nine months to come until Signing Day 2011, and given the bevy of soft commitments, decommitments, oversigning, grayshirting and other miscellaneous shenanigans of modern-day college football, one can no longer take the young man at his word, but must instead ask: how solid is Hayes in his commitment to the Cardinal?
"I'm basically definite to Stanford unless I go out there and hate it for some reason," said Hayes, adding that a decommitment would come more from what Stanford did than what any other school did. "That would be the only reason. I really intend to be fully committed to Stanford."
Academically, Hayes wants to study business on the Farm.
"I know there's no business major, but I can combine econ with one other thing [Management Science and Engineering] and take business management classes after that," he said. "I want to own my own business and be my own man. Maybe I'll come up w something, have interest and make a company out of that."
For now though, Hayes is in high school, where he reports a 2.9 GPA and a 23 on his ACT.
"I haven't taken prep classes, so I'll take classes and retake the ACT," said Hayes, adding, like many Midwest students, he plans to forgo the SAT. "They want me to earn all A's and B's for the next semester and said I should be good and able to get in. I also have to take two AP classes, so I'm taking AP Government and AP Precalculus."
Stay tuned to The Bootleg as we follow DT Anthony Hayes and the rest of the 2011 class over what promises to be an eventful next nine months!
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