C.J. Hayes left it late.
Twenty-four hours before National Signing Day this year, the 6-foot-1 wide receiver was committed to Purdue. Then he flipped to Michigan State and signed with the Spartans the next day.
To read Hayes’ story and what led him to East Lansing, click here. But first, enjoy the following interview. Land of 10 sat down with Hayes before he enrolled to get his view in retrospect of the recruiting process: what he liked, what he didn’t like and what he might change if given the opportunity.
Q: Why did you choose Michigan State?
Hayes: “I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to play at a big-time place. I wanted to get exposure and play against tough competition, and then TV, national television and then the education as well. The education is top notch.”
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give someone going through the recruiting process now?
Hayes: “Consider other people. Consider your parents. Consider what they say. It’s not all about you.”
Q: What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention?
Hayes: “I got a message from [former Western Michigan and current Minnesota coach] P.J. Fleck every day. He was the most consistent. Every day, around the same time, it was a long paragraph.
“Besides the cake at Purdue for my birthday. I woke up, got there [for a visit], went to the little meeting room and there was a birthday cake.”
Q: What’s the funniest thing any coach said to you during the recruiting process?
Hayes: “Probably [Michigan State receivers coach Terrence] Samuel. We just pulled in after the visit. I texted him, ‘Hey Coach, just letting you know we made it back safe.’ He goes, ‘All right. So, when are you coming back up? Are you coming back up next week? We need you at practice!'”
Q: What was your biggest regret from the recruiting process?
Hayes: “I wish I would’ve gone up to Michigan State’s practice that one day. Michigan State had practice after the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp in Detroit. We were right there. But it was a four-day camp, I was exhausted and they wanted me to do another camp. I was like, nah.”
Q: To what school was it hardest to say no?
Hayes: “Toledo. [Coach] Jason Candle. I was ready to commit to Toledo. He is what he says he is. I was going to commit. I just wanted a bigger school, bigger stage. Coach Candle was the foundation. And once we moved on, we tried to find people that were like him. If he was at Purdue, I would be at Purdue.”
Q: Which school disappointed you most during the recruiting process?
Hayes: “Tennessee. Dream school. They said they would offer, and they never did. They wanted me to play safety. I was like, ‘What happened to receiver?’ They wanted me to quit basketball. I quit basketball.
“Western [Kentucky]’s offering process was, ‘We want to offer you, but we’re not going to say anything about it.’ You want to offer me, but you’re not going to tell anybody about it? So you’re offering me, but you want me to commit first. I’m not doing that. If you really like me, you would’ve offered me. They said, ‘No. We want to keep you so that other schools, bigger schools won’t come to get you.’ Well you just told me that you are the better school, so why would you do that?”
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s one rule you would change about recruiting?
Hayes: “Let the players have more time with the coaches. Don’t make 40,000 rules to where if they do one little thing, they’re in trouble. The rules aren’t too strict. The coach can’t call me? I’ve got to text him first? Just call me. If you really want to talk to me, call me.”