Irish recruit helps with sales pitch

Justice Hayes hopes to bring another Michigan native with him to South Bend. Courtesy of IrishSportsDaily.com

Justice Hayes, the first domino to fall in a wildly successful recruiting weekend for Notre Dame football, is now campaigning hard in his home state of Michigan to keep momentum rolling for a 2011 class nearing completion.

Without dropping names, the Grand Blanc, Mich., native, rated the No. 22 RB nationally by ESPN Recruiting, hinted at 4-star receiver DeAnthony Arnett, who lives just 37 miles to the north in Saginaw and was offered by the Fighting Irish on June 8.

“Right after my press conference Friday I got to work helping bring in more recruits,” said Hayes, who is 5 foot 10 and 180 pounds. “It’s going to be seen in a couple days. Just know we need some wide receivers, and we’re going to try and bring some in. I pretty much knew that I could encourage others to join because big-time players have to bring in big-time recruits.”

Following Hayes’ verbal commitment Friday was that of Miami defensive end/outside linebacker Anthony Rabasa, who arrived on an official visit to South Bend on Wednesday. Cornerback Jalen Brown (Irving, Texas), the No. 23 player at his position in the country, according to ESPN, followed suit late the same evening. Coveted 4-star DE prospect Aaron Lynch, out of Cape Coral, Fla., pledged his allegiance early Saturday morning as the 16th commitment.

Hayes, who seriously considered Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and Northwestern, said he was completely persuaded by first-yearch coach Brian Kelly and his staff without having given much thought to Notre Dame before treking to South Bend.

“I didn’t expect anything out of [my visit two weeks ago],” he said. “That visit was a life-changing experience. After I talked to the coaches, that’s when it really clicked. Coach Kelly is a winner, and we all see that. That’s what we like about him.”

Invited to play in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in Jan., Hayes rushed for 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns on 175 carries as a junior. He also caught 19 passes for 208 yards en route to all-state honors.

Lynch, with room to expand his 6-6, 245-pound frame, is widely regarded as the other key get for the Irish over the weekend. The Island Coast High School star chose Notre Dame over Florida, Florida State and Miami after registering 52 tackles and 16 sacks last season. In February, Island Coast coach Joe Bowen told irishsportsdaily.com, an ESPN affiliate, that Lynch planned to graduate early in order to participate in spring practices at his eventual school of choice.

Rabasa, who might end up playing outside linebacker for the Irish, had 80 tackles and 10 sacks for Columbus High School as a junior defensive end. The 6-3, 220-pounder had made official visits to Miami, Florida and Florida State.

Brown, an ESPNU 3-star recruit at CB, recorded 32 tackles, 13 pass breakups and an interception for MacArthur in 2009. He reportedly received offers from Nebraska, Wisconsin and Texas A&M among others and had not stepped foot on Notre Dame’s campus prior to his decision.

“I’m excited about it and feel honored to be a part of that history,” Hayes said about jump starting one of the most productive 24-hour recruiting periods in decades for the Irish. “We just want to get in and get to work.”