Monday, November 22, 2010

Justice Hayes, Wolverine

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, 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


  1. What a relief. I was just thinking that the slot receiver position was down to like 6 guys whenever Kelvin Grady departs, so we need to fill that void in the depth chart.

    Nothing against Hayes, but this team needs some lineman and it would be cool to have a TE on the roster too.

  2. It's great getting an unexpected guy from in-state like Hayes. Looking forward to having him and Dee Hart competing for time next season...

  3. And not taking a slot because we have several on the roster, would lead to a lack of depth 2-3 years down the road. Just because the team has played tons of freshmen and sophomores the last few years doesn't mean that should be the norm. After next year, the team loses all the starting WRs except for Roundtree, and Roundtree leaves the season after that. It will be nice having some redshirt sophomores and juniors to step up rather than having to plug in true freshman.

    While there have been some departures that have really left the defensive depth thin, it does seem Rodriguez is recruiting for long term, consistent depth, rather than just trying to plug holes.

  4. For those who don't know the reason he changed from ND to UM is he and his parents were left by the hosts in outh Bend in a rain storm and it led to a not very good situation. When he talked to Kelly later, Kelly told him he had a bad attitude. He and his parents were furious so he called coach Fred and the rest in history.

  5. Lankownia,

    Uh, we HAVE linemen so far in this class and are pursuing more. TE Jack Tabb is also being chased down.

    Forgive me if I like the idea of recruiting positions where depth exists so we don't have to put 100 true freshmen in the game repeatedly. Yes, we have obvious needs elsewhere, but focusing specifically on one or two positions every year isn't effective.

  6. anon 10:04 -

    I agree with your philosophy, but look at the depth chart and last year's recruiting class. Last year's class had 5 WR, 3 of which will probably red-shirt. Compare the depth at slot WR to other positions. Project out the starting lineups a couple years and you see glaring holes in the 2 deep at several positions - WR ain't one of them.

    Slot WR is deeper than QB and its a position where skills are fairly transferable between outside receiver and RB. If any position on the roster can be spread thin its slot receiver yet the coaches seem to make it a priority.

    I'm not saying ignore the position, but its not a priority to land one slot receiver in every single class, especially when you've landed multiple in previous classes.

  7. Anon 11:17

    Not enough OL. The fact that just 3 OL were brought in over 2 recruiting classes for 5 positions is inexcusable. Underclassmen starters is bad, but true freshman starters is worse. A giant OL class is a necessity because next year all but 3 returning OL will be upperclassmen.

    I know they're recruiting Tabb - that doesn't mean they're going to land him. There will be just 2 returning TEs on the roster next year and no underclassmen. This makes sense if RR is phasing the position out, but it doesn't sound like thats the case.

  8. Lank,

    Underclassmen starters are only bad if you're playing them out of necessity and not because they're beating out older guys (i.e. Lewan).

    Molk will be a senior but already has an heir apparent that according to recruiting sites has the potential to be even better than Molk. Khoury is also back.

    Schilling's a big loss, but according to Rod and Frey, Barnum won't be a liability.

    Omameh will be a junior and Lewan will be a sophomore. Schofield and Campbell will still be young.

    If you look at our OL depth chart and our current OL recruits and possible future commits, it's a slightly pressing matter that is being fully dealt with (the class is shaping up to have 5 or 6 commits). I certainly hope we land Tabb, but there's also an instate guy we're looking at, I think.

    I also feel that defensive backfield positions have displaced OL as far as priorities go due to severe attrition and injuries. The corner situation should be deeper next year, but we still have DOOM at safety.

  9. The OL depth looks amazing next year. It'll be a team strength again. My issue is with well beyond that. Ideally, you recruit for 3 years out. In practice, your often recruit for 2. If you you're recruiting for next year, you're in panic mode. I don't think this program is in panic mode anymore.

    You say Campbell is young, but he'll be a junior just like Omameh next year. Where the OL depth gets scary is when this large group of 2012 seniors graduates and theres no OG on the roster other than whoever comes out of the current recruiting class. I hope you're right about it being 5 or 6 guys but we're not there yet, and only a couple guys appear to be still on the radar.

    I don't see safety as doom next year. Kovacs will be a 3rd year starter backed up by a highly touted recruit (Robinson). FS is meh with Kovacs and Johnson, but they who both played and started as freshman and will return as improved sophomores. Next year you can still look at them as a walk-on and a 2-star player and call it doom if you want, but I'd view them as returning starters who have beaten out some talented competition....or maybe its Robinson and Johnson ready to play as talented sophomores.