|Grand Blanc running back Justice Hayes|
Running back Justice Hayes, from Grand Blanc, MI, committed to the Wolverines on Monday night. Hayes is a 5'10", 182 lb. running back/slot receiver who's a 4-star recruit to all three recruiting services. Rivals is the biggest fan of Hayes, giving him the #84 ranking overall and placing him as the #3 all-purpose back in the nation. Those are pretty high accolades.
Up until a couple days ago, Hayes was a Notre Dame commitment. He committed to the Fighting Irish in July 2010 and seemed solidly in their corner. However, after attending a recent game in South Bend, he stated that there were a "couple situations" in South Bend that made him uncomfortable. It didn't take him long to call his recruiter at Michigan, running backs coach Fred Jackson, and make a commitment to the Wolverines.
As for Hayes's high school production, he injured his wrist three games into his senior season and missed the majority of his final year due to that injury. However, he had solid seasons as a sophomore and junior. As a tenth grader in 2008, Hayes carried the ball 163 times for 1,122 yards and 10 touchdowns. He followed that up with 175 carries for 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hayes also caught 41 passes for 447 yards over those two seasons.
According to GoBlueWolverine.com, Hayes committed to Michigan as an "athlete." This does not surprise me. Michigan has a similar (but better) back already in the fold for the Class of 2011, Demetrius Hart. Hayes catches the ball out of the backfield well, and he runs with kind of a slashing, herky jerky motion. He has a variety of moves and looks nearly impossible to tackle one-on-one. In some ways, he reminds me of a taller Jeremy Gallon.
What Hayes lacks is ideal size and top-end speed. He doesn't exactly run away from defenses, and while he runs through some tackles by picking up his feet and keeping them moving, he won't run over anybody. When I ranked uncommitted backs in June, Hayes checked in at #5 on my list (Dee Hart was #2).
I think the position in which Hayes would be most effective is slot receiver. Hart is a more dynamic runner and has better speed, so I'd like Hart to get more touches from the backfield. However, as I said above, Hayes is spectacular in open space. I would like to see him catching some bubble screens and getting to the edge one-on-one. That would also give the team the slot receiver they desired in the 2011 class, as evidenced by the offers to Prince Holloway, DeVondrick Nealy, and Shane Wynn, among others.
Hayes is commitment #13 in the Class of 2011. Barring any early departures or transfers, there should be approximately nine spots left in the class.
TTB Rating: 72