FA­GAN

Cherokee County Herald - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

He was our backup guy all last year and got to play some. Never say never. He’s proved me wrong for sure.”

Early in his Pied­mont var­sity ca­reer, Hayes was known for his de­fen­sive abil­ity at line­backer. His fresh­man and sopho­more sea­sons, Hayes was an all- state se­lec­tion as a line­backer, where he led the team in tack­les both years.

Pied­mont coach Steve Smith moved him to quar­ter­back as a ju­nior, and the rest is history.

Smith be­lieves Hayes has what it takes to be the Game­cocks’ sig­nal caller at some point in his col­le­giate ca­reer.

“What Coach Grass and I talked about (dur­ing re­cruit­ing), and what he talked about with Tay­lor was Tay­lor Hayes is a quar­ter­back,” Smith said. “If you watched our sea­sons the last cou­ple of years, he threw for 4,000 yards and around 40-45 touch­downs with only eight or nine in­ter­cep­tions. I’ve said this many times over, I’ve had some re­ally good quar­ter­backs over the years who could re­ally throw the foot­ball, and Tay­lor’s right up there with the best of them. He can do a lot of things with his arm that he never re­ally got the credit he de­served.

“Al­though being able to play mul­ti­ple po­si­tions can prob­a­bly help his chances get­ting on the field quicker, I still be­lieve in my heart if he’s given an equal op­por­tu­nity to com­pete for the job at quar­ter­back, we’ll see him be the quar­ter­back one day at Jack­sonville State. How quickly that hap­pens, whether it’s his first year or his third year or what­ever, I don’t know. That’s up to the coach­ing staff, but I do think he is a quar­ter­back and not just a good foot­ball player play­ing quar­ter­back.”

Re­gard­less of what hap- pens with Hayes at JSU, Grass knows he has a tal­ented player. It’s just a mat­ter of where to best uti­lize his tal­ent.

“We love guys like Tay­lor who com­pete, and you can al­ways find a place for guys like that on your foot­ball team,” Grass said. “They may not be the tallest. They may not be the pa­ram­e­ters and all that stuff, but we look more at how our guys com­pete than we do a lot of dif­fer­ent things.”

Smith be­lieves it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore “Coach Grass and those guys at Jack­sonville State will wind up see­ing the ex­act same things in Tay­lor that we saw.”

“When you see what makes that kid tick, you see what kind of com­pet­i­tive streak he’s got in him, I think it would be very dif­fi­cult for them to keep him off the field in some ca­pac­ity,” Smith said. “I firmly be­lieve you’ll see him trot­ting on the field as the quar­ter­back at Jack­sonville State. I’ll be very sur­prised if that doesn’t hap­pen. I’ve got that much con­fi­dence in him.”

Matt Reynolds /

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