EAST LANSING - Michigan State coaches were able to touch base, in-person, with Justice Hayes, one of the top running back prospects in the nation, during Friday's 7-on-7 camp at MSU.
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio watched Hayes and his Grand Blanc High School teammates play against Clarkston High on Friday afternoon at Spartan Stadium in Hayes' first game of the day.
Dantonio was joined by MSU offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett in watching the game, which was played on the north half of the Spartan Stadium field. Narduzzi and Dantonio also had an eye on the south end of the field, where Orchard Lake St. Mary's and super junior linebacker James Ross were in action against a travel team from Fort Wayne, Ind., which included Indiana DB commitment Kenny Mullen.
Hayes received a handshake and a few comments from Dantonio after the game. Later, after Hayes's second game of the day, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound speedster spoke with the MSU head coach again.
"We always talk," Hayes said of himself and Dantonio. "I'm pretty familiar with him and the coaching staff. (New running backs) Coach (Brad) Salem, I'm getting to know him a lot more too.
"The coaches said they pretty much expect me to get out here and do my thing, and get out around and see the campus while I'm here and make Michigan State feel like my home.
"This was my second time being at Michigan State during the summer time. Last year, we did 7-on-7 at Michigan State, but I wasn't really getting looked at yet. But I came out and watched a couple of practices here and things are going pretty well."
Scores were not kept in the 7-on-7 camp, with each team getting a predetermined amount of offensive reps. After each play, the ball returned to the original line of scrimmage, regardless of the gain or lack of gain.
With the players in jerseys, helmets and shorts, and running plays not allowed, Hayes had a light workload. He usually ran routes to the flat while watching senior QB Zach Morley look downfield for development in the vertical passing game.
"It's not too intense for me because I'm a running back and you can't really run the ball at 7 on 7, but I look at it as a team thing, getting my receivers ready, and my quarterback, and get our timing down so that we will be ready to go in the summer," Hayes said. "I just come out and get out in space, catch the ball a little bit."
Hayes also took a few reps at safety during the 7-on-7 camp, as Grand Blanc head coach Joe Delaney said the superstar offensive player is interested in spot duty on the defensive side of the ball to help his team try to get back to the state playoffs for a deeper run in 2010. Last year, Grand Blanc enjoyed a 9-0 regular season and rose to No. 5 in the state rankings, but lost to Romeo in the first round of the state playoffs.
As for individual recruiting, Hayes, ranked the No. 5 all-purpose running back in the nation and No. 75 overall by Rivals.com, reiterated his list of six favorites.
"My favorites right now, I'm still at six," Hayes said. "My top are Michigan State, Michigan, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Iowa. When I get out this summer to all six schools, I'm going to try to cut it to three or four.
"It's always nice to get out and see all the campuses and get familiar with the campus, see the coaches and get more familiar with them. My thing is I want to be comfortable with the school that I pick and I want to get to know the coaches and the players pretty well and check out everything and make my decision from it.
"I am going to try to get out to all of them this summer and if not I'm still planning to trim it down from there. I plan to go to all of them on unofficials, or officials if I wait that long.
"Most likely it (my decision) will be after the football season, but don't be surprised if it's before because sometimes I feel like I want it to just end. It gets a little tiring and takes it out of you mentally."
There will be more information on Hayes, including extended comments from Grand Blanc head coach Joe Delaney, in next week's June issue of SPARTAN Magazine.
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