A word of advice to B1G quarterbacks: throw at Damon Hayes at your own risk.
The senior defensive back has had a nice career with the Scarlet Knights. Through three seasons, he has 126 total tackles, five TFL, four interceptions, and 17 passes defended. However, his best work may still be to come.
Rutgers’ CB coach Jay Valai discussed Hayes’ role recently, and he made it clear that Hayes is back at his normal corner position after spending 2018 at safety. According to Keith Sargeant with NJ.com, Valai believes the return to corner could pay off in a huge way this season:
“Damon Hayes is going to shock a lot of people across this country,’’ Valai said. “Athletically he’s talented. (He’s a) big, strong, freaky-looking corner. Great in man-to-man, great eyes (and) pre-snap communication. He’s one of the best I’ve been around, and I was at Georgia when Deandre Baker was there. I was in the league last year with Steve Nelson, Kendall Fuller and all those guys. He’s just as good as any of them. He just needs to keep bringing himself up to that (level) every single day.’’
Of that group, Baker was most recently a late first-round draft pick of the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft. A strong season would certainly boost Hayes’ NFL stock.
With Hayes’ return to corner and the praise for defensive back Avery Young, Rutgers could have the makings of a strong secondary in 2019. Hopefully, it will help the Scarlet Knights improve on a 1-11 record from last season.