Since committing to Notre Dame last month, Jay Hayes has appreciated the outpouring of support from Notre Dame Nation.
“I’m just enjoying the feeling that the Notre Dame fans are there to support you,” the 2014 defensive lineman from Poly Prep in Brooklyn said. “That’s great. Through Twitter and Facebook, they’re just giving me words of encouragement and support.
“I spoke to one of my coaches at school. My school is known as a huge community with giving and helping others, but when you look at Notre Dame, that’s the epitome of a community. Everyone there loves each other and wants to help. That’s incredible.”
The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder feels just as good about his decision to select the Irish now as he did a month ago.
“I definitely feel confident,” he said. “A lot of people say, ‘Why wouldn’t you pick another school? Why wouldn’t you go to Oregon? Why wouldn’t you go to USC? Why wouldn’t you go to Ohio State?’ The opportunity and it’s about the bigger picture.
“When you talk about community, there’s no other community like Notre Dame. Notre Dame is the epitome of community. I feel great there already.”
And Hayes hasn’t even been to Notre Dame yet. He was supposed to visit for the team’s final home game of the season in November, but wasn’t able to make it. He’s looking forward to getting there at some point, possibly for a junior day.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I haven’t even visited Notre Dame yet, but I know when I go, I’ll definitely like it.”
Notre Dame will be the only school he visits as the touted lineman also said flatly that he has no plans to check out any other schools and is completely content with his selection.
Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco should be in Brooklyn sometime after the BCS National Championship Game in January to check on Hayes. He was also excited to hear about Notre Dame receiving another 2014 commitment since his in the form of Cleveland offensive lineman Jimmy Byrne.
“I haven’t really had a chance to watch tape of him,” said Hayes, who welcomed Byrne to the Notre Dame community via Twitter.
“I’ve looked at tape of Justin Brent, he’s phenomenal, he’s a great athlete. Greer Martini is good too. I think once we get the chemistry going, we’ll be rolling.”
Hayes has been paying attention to Notre Dame’s 2013 recruiting efforts as well and called the commitment of Florida running back Greg Bryant “huge.”
“It’s great,” he added. “I take it as an honor that they’re very talented. That’s going to drive me. I’m going to be at practice pushing them and making them get better. When it comes to practice, I take that seriously. If someone is slacking then that’s disrespectful to me because I’m trying to get a rep. As soon as I get my opportunity to practice with ND, I’m just going to go all out.”
Hayes is looking forward to watching his future teammates take on Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7th.
“I think Notre Dame is going to win if they come together as a unit and win the turnovers,” he said. “I think it’s going to come down to who’s tougher and who wants it more. I think Notre Dame will win if their defense remains stout.”
Since the end of his season, Hayes has been doing some yoga in order to increase flexibility and get healthy. He’s also been working with a personal trainer along with his friend and former high school teammate Jesse Bongiovi. The son of rocker and Irish fan Jon Bon Jovi, Bongiovi is planning to walk on at Notre Dame next fall possibly as a cornerback, according to Hayes.