Something tells me the recruitment of Norman Hayes is about to pick up steam.
The Tucker quarterback this past weekend received a scholarship offer from Stanford while in Palo Alto to attend the Cardinal’s spring game on a recruiting visit. But while the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Hayes is a good player and a talented athlete in his own right, it was probably no coincidence that Hayes had his best buddy with him on the trip.
That would be James Vaughters, the state’s top linebacker.
Vaughters has long held a scholarship offer from Stanford, along with about 25 or 30 others. The 6-foot-3, 232-pounder linebacker is one of the most sought-after prospects in the South.
And he was delighted that his best friend landed an offer from the prestigious West Coast school. Hayes did not have any previous major college offers.
“Stanford offered Norman as an ‘athlete,’ although I think he still may have an opportunity to compete at quarterback,” said Vaughters, who made the trip along with Hayes’ parents, Hayes’ sister and Devin Scott, a former Tucker teammate now bound for Navy. “But it’s a great opportunity for him and I am excited for him. Norman’s going to do some great things for us this upcoming season, and he’s a great student, on and off the field.”
Offering “package deals” to land elite recruits seems to be in vogue again. It certainly worked well for Tennessee, which landed longtime Georgia commitment Da’Rick Rogers, the No. 1 wide receiver in the state, because they signed his best friend, Calhoun quarterback Nash Nance.
Of course, others the Bulldogs utilized a similar tactic to secure the state’s top safety. They offered linebacker Zander Ogletree, Alec Ogletree’s much smaller twin brother, late in the recruiting process. Both signed with Georgia in February.
The fact is, every school does it to varying degrees. If you have room and the friend or cousin or teammate is a decent-enough player, sign him, too.
In the case of Hayes and Vaughters, not only are they close friends but their parents are as well. Hayes went to Stanford with the Vaughters family on their initial visit to back in February.
Nonetheless, the Vaughters insist they are not trying to work an angle.
“We [the Hayes and Vaughters families] think it would be a ‘nice to have,’ but we are not positioning it as a requirement,” James’ father Jonathan Vaughters told me via email. “James and Norman are pretty close and so are the parents.”
Meanwhile, the Vaughters have their hands full handling their own recruitment. They have narrowed his choices from more than 30 down to eight finalists. Texas was the latest school to be stricken from the list. That leaves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Ohio State, Southern Cal and Stanford.
“Last week was pretty busy on the recruiting front,” James said. “I had a chance to talk with most of the schools on my current list, including Coach [Paul] Johnson at Georgia Tech, Florida, Alabama, Coach [Lane] Kiffin at USC and the coaching staff at Stanford, of course. I wasn’t able to connect with Georgia, although I exchanged messages with Mark Richt. . . . But I remain very interested in all of the colleges on the short list.”
So how about it Tech and Georgia fans? Think your team should find some room for young Mr. Hayes, too?