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SI High School Player of the Week - Football

November 30, 2010

Kenny Hayes


Defensive End


Whitmer High


Toledo, Ohio







Season Highlights:

Dominating on the defensive line, Hayes led Whitmer (12-2) with 60 tackles, six sacks and a blocked kicked despite being double-teamed on nearly every snap. Hayes has committed to Ohio State.

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Posted: Tuesday November 30, 2010 1:16PM ; Updated: Tuesday May 24, 2011 1:00PM

Hard work, humility sets Kenny Hayes apart

By Ben Glicksman, SI.com

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Most high school football players spend their summers relaxing, doing light cardio and lifting sporadically to prepare for fall camp. In 2008, Whitmer High's Kenny Hayes spent his offseason struggling through three-a-day workouts to add 40 pounds of muscle.

His grueling regimen included bench presses, power cleans and a variety of running exercises to improve his release speed. He ate a steady diet of meat and potatoes, getting some form of protein with almost every meal. Perhaps most uniquely, he used manual labor to augment his strength.

"I used an axe to cut down trees," he says. "I was really working to get bigger and faster before the season started."

That training paid off, as the Ohio State commit has become one of the top defensive end recruits in the nation. His increased size (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) overwhelms most linemen, and his polished handwork makes him a challenge to contain in the trenches. He paced the Panthers (12-2) with 60 tackles, six sacks and a blocked kick.

Much of that success stems from his signature spin move, a maneuver he first implemented during his breakout sophomore season. He says the secret is in his timing.

"When I'm pass-rushing the tackle upfield, either the quarterback or the running back steps up," he says. "Then I spin to the inside to tackle [them]."

He'll bring that skill to Columbus, where he'll join a Jim Tressel squad with a history of terrific defensive lineman. Vernon Gholston and Thaddeus Gibson were each selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, and Cameron Heyward will likely join them once he leaves school in 2011. Hayes will develop under Jim Heacock, the defensive coordinator and former D-line coach who's been with the team since 1996.

That's not why he selected OSU, though. Hayes' Buckeye allegiance dates back to seventh grade, when he cheered for the likes of Troy Smith and Antonio Pittman. Though he briefly flirted with the idea of attending Florida or Michigan State, his loyalty never wavered, something he cemented when he committed to the team in August of last year.

"I always wanted to go there, just from watching the games on TV, watching the tradition and how they play the game," he says.

Ohio State is thrilled to have him, and the Buckeye faithful will count on Hayes to be the next defensive end to wreak havoc on Big Ten quarterbacks. His outstanding play at Whitmer did little to temper expectations.

It also further excited the Toledo native, who can't wait to play his first game in The Horseshoe. While he may not be Heyward version 2.0, he's confident his physical style of play will translate to the college level. He's eager to make an immediate impact.

"My biggest motivation comes when I make a tackle," he says. "I just wanna do it again."

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