Notre Dame football recruiting: Hayes soaks up NFL wisdom

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

Jay Hayes spent his summer taking advantage of the connections his high school football program has developed.

Heading into his senior year at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, N.Y., Hayes soaked up some NFL wisdom when Cleveland Browns defensive line coach Joe Cullen came into town for a summer camp. Cullen, who coached with Poly Prep head coach Dino Mangiero at Indiana, visits the area every summer for a week to lend his knowledge.

“He was giving me a few pointers,” Hayes said. “I take that week out of the summer and it helps me polish up the things I need to do.”

Hayes, who has maintained his 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame, focused on defensive end technique throughout the offseason.

“The game is technical once you reach the collegiate level,” Hayes said. “Everybody is going to reach a peak of strength, and it’s going to get down to who has better technique. I have been polishing basic moves and the advanced moves that I do.”

With the increased work, Hayes’ confidence has also blossomed. When Poly Prep graduate Eric Olsen, who played at Notre Dame and now plays center for the New Orleans Saints, returned to the area during the summer, Hayes jokingly challenged the NFL offensive lineman. The two have talked about Notre Dame on multiple occasions, and Hayes values his advice.

“Every time we get to see him I joke around and call him soft,” Hayes said. “I was doing a few drills and he was watching me, so I said, 'What's up? I'm ready for the one on one. You ready scrub?' He was like ‘Man, you can't even afford a one on one with me. You're not ready yet.’”

Hayes seems prepared for his senior season. Practice starts in two weeks and the season opener is set for the first week of September. He has his eyes set on two numbers: zero, as in losses, and 17, as in the school’s single-season sack record.

“Last year, I had 14 (sacks). I was banged up a little bit last year,” Hayes said. “I'm focused on being out there this whole season, beating 17 sacks and going undefeated. That's the goal.”

Hayes also spent part of his summer working with local kids at the YMCA. Now with football season on the horizon, Hayes has his eyes on another local prospect: 2014 defensive tackle Thomas Holley from Lincoln High in Brooklyn. Hayes suggested that the two may try to get together once a week for some defensive lineman drills.

Helping recruit an interior defensive lineman or two to complement the strong class of offensive line commitments sits at the top of Hayes’ wish list.

“I’m so proud that our offensive line is stacked. We have some studs,” Hayes said. “I feel bad for the other teams that will be going against those dudes. I'm glad we can go against them in practice to get better."

In the fall, Hayes wants to return for two Notre Dame home games. He named the BYU game in November and the night game against USC in October as two possibilities. He would like to get together with fellow defensive line commit Andrew Trumbetti for at least one trip.

Hayes last visited Notre Dame for the Blue-Gold Game in April.

Elam narrows list to 6 schools

Defensive tackle Matt Elam, one of Notre Dame’s top remaining targets in the 2014 class, continues to include the Irish in his top list of schools.

The 6-foot-6, 340-pound prospect from Elizabethtown, Ky., named a top six on Twitter on Thursday. Elam’s list, in no particular order, included Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisville, Ohio State and Notre Dame.

Elam ranks as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2014 class on 247Sports.com and No. 10 overall. Rivals.com slates Elam as the No. 24 defensive tackle in the country.

California DE visiting

Matt Dickerson, a 2014 defensive end prospect from Junipero Serra High in San Mateo, Calif., is visiting Notre Dame this weekend, his head coach confirmed with the Tribune. Dickerson is expected to be on campus Friday and Saturday.

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Dickerson ranks as a three-star recruit.

Rivals slates him as the No. 17 defensive end prospect in his class. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 66 defensive tackle.

Notre Dame recruit Jay Hayes values the advice he gets from former Notre Dame player Eric Olsen, picture, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints.