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Monday, March 18, 2013
Talented 2015 ATH has decisions ahead

By Radi Nabulsi

Sophomore athlete Jaylin Hayward is undecided, which is normal for a prospect with two years of high school left. He has plenty of time to choose a school from among his impressive offer list, which includes programs like Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Florida, Miami and Tennessee. But before he picks a college, he has to pick a position -- which could be trickier.

“See that’s the thing -- I really don’t know,” Hayward said. “I am not sure what position I want to play in college. Here, I just play whatever the coach asks me to.”

When he says “here” he is referring to the Florida Class AAAAA state champion Tallahassee Godby High School, where coach Ronnie Cottrell has Hayward playing on both sides of the ball for the Cougars.

“He plays wide receiver and defensive back for us, and a lot of people have projected him to be a top player in Florida for 2015,” Cottrell said.

Count college coaches among those who think Hayward is a rising star. The national champion Crimson Tide offered Hayward early.

“I think it was Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt who came to practice one day and saw me do a couple runs and he was impressed,” Hayward said. “They offered me as an athlete. Coach [Nick] Saban is a great coach. He is the type of guy that, even outside of sports and school, he will still be there for you.”

Pruitt is now the defensive coordinator for Florida State, the power program in Hayward’s hometown. Pruitt is no longer his primary recruiter, but the Seminoles are chasing the local prodigy.

“Lance Thompson is recruiting me for FSU,” Hayward said. “They offered me as a running back. I am not going to make any quick decisions. It depends ... There is some pressure but there are a lot of guys out of the state that are committing to Florida State. Maybe Florida State might be the right college, or it might be another college. I have a lot of offers so I am just going to stay open-minded right now.”

One program that could have an inside track with Hayward is LSU. Hayward’s aunt, uncle and grandmother live in Louisiana. The Tigers have offered him as an athlete.

“That is a huge offer,” Hayward said. “I have family down there and when I stepped onto the practice field over there, they started treating me like family. So that was pretty cool. It is definitely a great college. Coach [Les] Miles is an incredible coach and he stays on top of his football players, particularly on their grades and stuff.”

Hayward said he plans to visit Tennessee soon, and while he is open to all programs that might offer, he specifically would like to earn offers from Oregon and USC. He hopes to make a Ducks football camp.

“Oregon is up there but it is worth it,” Hayward said. “I hope I would get offered there. The thing about Oregon is that I would definitely fit into their program because they run a similar offense to what we run here. I fit in very well there.”