Hayes Studies the Big Board

Different recruits handle the recruiting process different ways, but it's safe to say Justice Hayes' process is unique. A highly-coveted four-star running back, Hayes has been reeling in the offers, and makes sure every one is well documented.

DETROIT - Every time a new school comes calling, Justice Hayes can't run to his room fast enough to look at his most priced position tucked safely under his bed.

It's something more valuable and important than all his trophies, plagues and accolades put together, but nobody would recognize it as such when they see Hayes reach for his poster dry erase board.

Upon closer inspection, Hayes has chronicled the positives and negatives each of schools that have knocked on his door, a board that tells a lot of different stories written by his own experiences.

"I have a couple of schools that I am kind of digging right now, and I keep all the thoughts straight on my pros and cons board," Hayes told Badger Nation. "I like to write something down when I think of something after talking to a coach or going on a visit to the school."

It's the easiest way for Hayes, a four-star running back and the 15th-best running back in the country by Scout.com, to keep track of what has been a crazy recruiting process; a process that has yielded scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Purdue, Minnesota and Cincinnati.

"Most definitely it helps," Hayes said. "Not only do you have the board, you have to focus on what you like in the schools and make your decision from there. It's a difficult process, but I know I can handle it."

According to his white board of destiny, Hayes has already started to narrow down his list to his favorite six schools - Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan and Notre Dame in no particular order.

"It's a privilege to have offers first of all," Hayes said. "I have a pretty good list and the thing I like about these schools is that are they top class, division 1 schools or Big Ten schools. They've all had success in the past. I have a great list to choose from that has a bunch of national championship schools."

While Hayes wasn't able to cash in Badgers invitation to junior day last month, Hayes put Wisconsin in his six favorites because of the school's tradition of running the football successfully.

"They are a great school that produces great running backs," Hayes said. "The past couple years, its backs have been big. If I was to commit to Wisconsin, I would be a smaller back and I would hopefully change their philosophy of getting smaller backs. Hopefully I would be able to get on the field as a smaller, faster, quicker back to help Wisconsin get to the national championship."

Being recruited by Wide Receivers Coach DelVaughn Alexander, Alexander shared that same philosophy with Hayes, that the 5-foot-10, 180-pound back could be a game changer in the backfield. Hayes would fit that role, as he finished his junior season with 1,400 yard rushing for 15 touchdowns on 175 carries for Community High School in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

"He wants me to be a dynamic back that wants to do everything," Hayes said, "and I appreciate that because I'm also not afraid to go up the middle. I'm more of a shifty, all-purpose back."

Growing up in Michigan, Hayes grew up watching the Spartans, a school he liked growing up as a kid, even though they were as successful as the rival Wolverines.

"There's just something about them that I liked, but I am not going to make my decision based off my past favorites," Hayes said.

With that said, Hayes has been making his rounds. He went to Michigan's junior day and has visited Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Northwestern. The only place of his top six Hayes hasn't visited is Madison, a place that he will visit before making his decision sometime in the fall.

"First off, I want to get the decision over with before the season, but I came to the conclusion that I wanted to get a chance to see a couple of football games during the season," Hayes said. "To me, I feel it will be easier to make my decision off of that because not only will I know the school that I am really liking, that year of success will help me feel more comfortable about my decision."

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