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.”