This summer's edition of Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine picked San Antonio Brandeis to win District 27-5A, and in its preview for Brandeis named defensive end Corey Hayes as one of the team's top junior prospects. Last year's edition named him the team's top sophomore prospect. Hayes is listed on Brandeis' Hudl page as 6'3" and 202 lbs. He is man enough to admit that was a slight exaggeration when it was written. He says he played his sophomore season at 6'1" 195, and has since grown to 6'2" (without shoes) and a little over 210 lbs.
While he lacks the college-ready body and height that fans love to see from their team's future defensive ends, he makes up for that with very good speed. He ran sprinting events for Brandeis during track season. At the District 27-5A track meet in April, he placed 2nd in the 100 meter final, finishing in 11.03, a mere .09 behind winner and Brandeis teammate Colin Blake. Blake was a four-star cornerback prospect who signed with Florida State in February, over offers from California, Michigan State, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M (the school he originally committed to), among others. That Hayes could run so closely with a future Seminole defensive back two years his senior should give an idea of the kind of straight-line speed Hayes possesses.
I got in contact with Hayes a few weeks ago and he answered questions I had for him via email. After the jump, a partial transcript of our email conversation, a brief scouting report, and a recounting of Texas' close calls in their recent history of recruiting defensive ends.HaroldHill: What are your best testing numbers in the 40-yard dash, bench press, squat, and vertical jump?
Corey Hayes: My best 40 laser is a 4.6, and hand timed 4.4. My bench is 260, squat 350, and vertical 33".
HH: I understand you ran track during the spring, specifically the 100, 200 and high jump. What are your PRs in those?
CH: My best 100 is a 10.97, I think my best 200 is 23.00, and highest high jump is 6'.
HH: Have you played any other sports besides football and track?
CH: I tried soccer but its just too much running.
HH: Have you attended camps at any colleges this summer?
CH: I attended OSU and Baylor camps.
HH: Did the coaches there give you any feedback on your performance?
CH: They said they will be in contact and that's about it. They also said i can be a great speed rusher.
HH: Did you have a favorite college team growing up?
CH: My favorite team growing up was UT.
HH: Are there any schools in particular you hope to receive an offer from?
CH: I would love to get a scholarship from either UT, Baylor, A&M, or Stanford.
HH: Did any college coaches show up at your campus to watch spring practice?
CH: OU, Baylor, OSU, TCU, and Texas State showed up. [He later added that he was told a UT coach came to campus in the spring but he was not aware of it at the time. Duane Akina is Texas' San Antonio-area recruiter.]
HH: Have any schools shown a high interest in you as of yet?
CH: A former Brandeis player who went to OU said they have a high interest and will most likely offer me. OSU and Baylor also have a good amount of interest. [He later confirmed that the former player was Kyle Marrs, a class of 2012 offensive lineman who signed with Oklahoma in February.]
HH: Do you have anyone in your family who played sports at the college level or higher?
CH: My dad played football for a short while at TCU.
HH: What do you think are your strengths as a player and as a defensive end? What areas are you aiming to improve in?
CH: I believe my strengths are the speed rush and a lot of run plays. I am aiming to improve on my footwork and implement different moves to set up a better pass rush.
HH: Do you have any idea yet what you'd like to major in when you get to college?
CH: I still am not too sure but i would like for it to be something in the medical field because I enjoy stuff like that.
HH: Great stuff! Enjoy the rest of your summer and good luck this fall!
Hayes says he grew up a Texas fan and would have a very high interest if they offered, but that possibility seems less likely after the events of last week, when Texas officially extended offers to Arlington Martin's Myles Garrett, San Antonio Brennan's Derick Roberson, and Coppell's Solomon Thomas. Those three are generally regarded as the best defensive ends in the state for the 2014 class (as long as you count Hoza Scott as a linebacker), and are all listed in the top ten on the most recent LSR Top 100 for 2014.
The Longhorns received a fairly quick commitment from Roberson and are believed to be in a good position with Garrett and Thomas, and if they get commitments from all three they may shut down recruiting at the position. Such a haul would surely represent one of the best (if not the best) defensive end classes Texas has ever signed.
That scenario should not be considered anything close to a certainty right now, because there are still 18 months to go until 2014's National Signing Day and Texas has had numerous close calls when recruiting defensive ends in recent years.
Jackson Jeffcoat waited until the weekend before signing day in 2010 to commit to Texas. Hassan Ridgeway committed shortly after attending a junior day in 2011, but he visited Texas A&M the weekend before signing day and reportedly came close to de-committing. Bryce Cottrell was pledged to Oregon until he switched his commitment to Texas the day before this year's signing day. And Louisiana native Torshiro Davis waited until Signing Day before switching his commitment to Texas from LSU. It's not fun to imagine what the Longhorns' defensive end depth would look like right now had any two of those gone the other way.
Less successfully, the Horns made a strong push for Mario Edwards, Jr. late in the 2012 recruiting period, but he ultimately stuck with his Florida State commitment. D.J. Ward of Lawton, Oklahoma was a top 2013 target at defensive end early on, but he was unable to attend Texas' Junior Day in February and he committed to Oklahoma two months later. Daeshon Hall was the Horns' only defensive end commitment for 2013 when he de-committed in June, and fellow 2013 DE target Torrodney Prevot commited to USC in July.
With six months to go until signing day for the 2013 class, the Longhorns do not have a commitment from a pure defensive end. Whether one raises his profile enough this fall to emerge on their radar - either from the high school or juco ranks - will be a recruiting story to watch.
The staff appears to want at least three defensive ends in the 2014 class, and more could be targeted if they are unable to flip any currently committed 2013 DEs and no others impress enough to receive an offer. This could be the way an under-the-radar 2014 defensive end prospect like Corey Hayes ends up being targeted to help fill up the class.
Regardless of whether or not he ever hears from Texas, Hayes will get FBS offers from somewhere for the simple fact that 6'2" guys in the 215-220 lb. range with his speed don't grow on trees. He's raw, needs to add some good weight, and likely isn't done growing, but if he's 6'3" and up to the 220-225 lb. range during his senior year (and still ripping off legit 4.6 40-yard times), he could find himself rated very highly among the 2nd tier DEs in his class. Growing to that size would put him close to where Bryce Cottrell and Shiro Davis are now, assuming the fall 2012 roster is reasonably accurate (always a dicey proposition), but even at a legit 6'2" now he could eventually be 6'4" if Texas still has the same measuring stick they used to make Quan Cosby 5'11".
Hayes shows off his best traits in his sophomore highlight film on Hudl. On run plays where the opponent allows him to come unblocked from the weak side, the ball carrier often gets tackled for a loss. On pass plays when he's able to disengage from his blocker, he shows very good closing speed in getting to the quarterback and/or forcing a hurried throw. In a couple of plays he fights off cut blocks from opposing linemen to get to the ball carrier for little or no gain. In another play, he simply uses his speed to run around an overmatched left tackle and get to the opposing quarterback. In another play he splits the gap between a down-blocking left tackle and a late-arriving H-back to get into the backfield and bring down the running back.
Hayes seems to have at least a decent understanding of how to use his hands to keep blockers off of him (he doesn't know his wingspan but on film he appeared to have long arms), and in one play he uses his hands to maintain separation from a left tackle, then disengages to pursue a running back on a swing pass and shoves him out of bounds for a four-yard loss.
He's still on the relatively small side for defensive end but he's got two high school years left to grow and get better and stronger. He's already known to a few schools and should start to see offers headed his way before his junior year is over, especially if he shows improvement in his already impressive track speed next spring.
I'm looking forward to watching his junior film after this season to see how much he has physically matured from his sophomore year, whether he has added any pass rush moves to his limited arsenal, and if he still has the same burst off the snap and closing speed that led college coaches at summer camps to tell him he had the potential to be a great speed rusher.
Brandeis is among the most talented teams in the San Antonio area, and for any readers interested, here is their 2012 schedule:
August 31 - vs. Smithson Valley
September 7 - @ San Antonio Johnson
September 15 - @ San Antonio Warren
September 21 - vs. San Antonio O'Connor
September 27 - @ San Antonio Stevens
October 5 - vs. San Antonio Taft
October 12 - @ San Antonio Clark
October 27 - vs. San Antonio Jay
November 2 - @ San Antonio Marshall
November 10 - vs. San Antonio Holmes