TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Ryan Hayes needed just one visit to the University of Michigan to know that’s where he wanted to go play college football. He had offers from Notre Dame, Michigan and California among others. Central Michigan, where his father, Mike, played football and his mother, Sue (Nissen) Arthur, is in the hall of fame as a basketball player, was the first to offer him a scholarship.
Ann Arbor was just too good for him to pass up.
Hayes excelled in football, basketball and baseball at Traverse City (Mich.) West High School. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh loves recruiting multi-sport athletes, and in Hayes he has signed one of the best all-around athletes in the state for the 2018 class. He was an all-state tight end, which is the position where he’ll begin his Michigan career although a switch to tackle could be in his future.
Hayes sat down with Land of 10 recently to talk about his recruiting experience with the Wolverines.
Your final choices were Michigan, Notre Dame and Michigan State. How did you decide on Michigan?
Ryan Hayes: “At Notre Dame I really liked their O-line coach [Harry Hiestand] but he’s gone now [to the Chicago Bears]. That was the main attraction. I liked their tight end coach, too, but that was the main attraction.
“When I took my visit to Michigan, I loved every second of it. I just knew I wanted to go there from the start. Michigan State was in that group because they were in early with me. I was down there more, but Michigan just blew me away.”
Did Jim Harbaugh talk to you about his love of multi-sport athletes?
RH: “He did say that. He wanted me to keep playing all three sports after I committed.”
Was there any question you were going to play all three sports?
RH: “All through my recruiting I knew I wanted to play all three. If a team told me not to play any of the three, I probably wouldn’t have considered them. Nobody told me that, though.
“I did think about taking one of the sports off and trying to just lift, but I thought I’d regret it too much.”
What’s your favorite of the three sports?
RH: “Honestly, I’ve played them all my life and I can’t pick.”
Were you much of a 3-point shooter this year?
RH: “I actually was this year. I took a lot of 3s and hit a lot of them.”
Pick only one: Game-winning TD catch, game-winning 3 or slam dunk, or walk-off home run. Which one?
RH: “That’s real tough. Honestly, in a big game, in a big baseball game I think a home run would feel the best. You can score touchdowns and hit 3s, but a walk-off homer would be pretty cool.”
Coming in to Michigan as a tight end?
Playing tackle remains to be seen?
RH: “Yes and no. I’m going to go in there and try to play tight end, but all the coaches have told me I’ve got a great potential as an offensive tackle. Wherever I can fulfill the most of my potential is where I will be fine playing.”
Your parents were both college athletes. How did that help you?
RH: “I always grew up playing sports. I always wanted something to do, to mess around with. My dad really helped me with football. He taught me how to block, how to be mean and aggressive on the field. My mom taught me more the finesse of the sports. She was a great basketball player, helped me in basketball a lot.
“With the recruiting process, they helped me but never pushed me one way or another. They were always supportive at games, even when I didn’t do well. The recruiting process helped with my brother, Connor, going through it at Pitt, and my dad going to a lot of places made it a lot easier. He knew where to go and what to do.”
Your mom is the CMU Hall of Fame as a basketball player. How long before you could beat her 1-on-1?
RH: “I’d like to say it was earlier in my life, but it probably wasn’t. We battled in the driveway until middle school. I finally got stronger. I never took it easy. She didn’t either.”