Nov 23, 2010, 12:30 AM EDT
In one of the more bizarre turn of events, Notre Dame has lost running back commitment Justice Hayes — one of Notre Dame’s most enthusiastic high school recruiters — who has decommitted from the Irish and in a matter of days given his pledge to the home state Michigan Wolverines.
“I’m a Wolverine now,” Hayes told TheWolverine.com on Monday night. “I just got off the phone with Coach Rodriguez and Coach Jackson, me and my parents, and we told them what direction we wanted to go in.”
Hayes visited Notre Dame for the Tulsa game and while his initial reaction after the game was positive, something mysterious happened that turned Hayes off from the Irish.
IrishIllustrated.com spoke with Hayes yesterday, and while he was still considering the Irish along with Michigan, Michigan State, and Tennessee, the writing was on the wall.
“Things had been happening for the past three months with the school, and I’m not saying the lack of success had an effect, but with that you had (Declan Sullivan’s) death last month and I heard rumors of coaching changes, but at that point I was still sold 100-percent,” Hayes said.
Back on Nov. 13 Hayes and his parents traveled to South Bend for Notre Dame’s game against Utah. They hoped to discuss with the Notre Dame coaching staff all the issues that caused Hayes to question his commitment.
Instead, they left even more concerned about the future.
“When we went down there I was sold on Notre Dame 100-percent, even with those issues,” Hayes said. “We went down there to talk with the coaches but they didn’t get the chance to talk to my parents. That really had an effect on me and my family.”
After discussing what had happened on the visit, Hayes decided to open up his recruitment to be sure he made the right decision four months ago.
“I’m not leaving, I’m just opening up to make sure I’m making the right decision,” Hayes said. “I kind of jumped into it early and I want to see if this is really what I want to do. I want to look at other options.”
Hayes has been mum on what particularly went wrong and took to Twitter to both change his profile name and release cryptic messages about something that “happened.” Regardless of what it was, Hayes was a high-profile running back recruit and the fourth decommitment from the Irish in the past two months. With running backs Armando Allen and Robert Hughes graduating, the Irish will look to add another running back, as they were already pursuing New Jersey’s Savon Huggins and likely will offer another running back.