Geno Hayes #55 OLB
Height: 6-1 Weight: 226 Age: 26
Born: 8/10/1987 Greenville , FL
College: Florida State
Experience: 7th season
High School: Madison Co. HS [Madison, FL]
Selected By: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick (Overall): 9 (175)
A versatile linebacker, Hayes has experience at both inside and outside positions, even though he started strictly on the weak -side during his time with the Seminoles. As a junior, he helped lead an aggressive defensive front seven that saw FSU rank 22nd in the nation in rush defense (116.62 ypg) and eighth in tackles for losses (7.92 pg). Hayes' 17.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
At Madison County High School, Hayes was rated the third-best linebacker in the country according to Tom Lemming of ESPN.com. He was a four-star player by Rivals.com, as that service also rated him the nation's third-best outside linebacker and the fifth-best overall prospect in the state of Florida. He added second-team-All USA Today All-American honors and was a first-team choice by Parade Magazine.
Hayes played in the Cali-Florida All-Star game, where he tackled a California player on the last play of the game to help lead the Florida team to victory, posting six tackles with three stops for losses in that contest. As a senior, he had 124 tackles with 27 for losses and 11 sacks. He posted 130 tackles, 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage, 19 sacks and three interceptions as a junior.
Hayes chose Florida State over scholarship offers from Tennessee and Clemson, appearing in 12 games as a reserve outside linebacker in 2005. He saw action mostly behind Ernie Sims at strong-side linebacker and on special teams, where he recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown. He also made 17 tackles (13 solos), recovered a fumble and broke up one pass.
In 2006, Hayes took over weak-side outside linebacker chores, starting nine of 10 games he played in. He sat out the Boston College, Maryland and Virginia clashes after suffering a right knee medial collateral ligament sprain vs. Duke. He still managed to rank fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 12 stops for losses, finishing fifth on the team with 59 tackles (31 solos), including three sacks. He also picked off a pass and deflected three others.
As a junior, Hayes garnered All-American honorable mention and All-ACC recognition. He was originally scheduled to take over middle linebacker chores, but started 12 times at his familiar weak-side linebacker slot. He ranked second on the squad with 80 tackles (49 solos), adding five sacks and ranking second in the league with 17.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused two fumbles, returned an interception for a touchdown and broke up three passes.
However, his 2007 campaign was not without a little drama. Hayes was suspended for the first quarter of the Alabama game after he was arrested Sept. 21, along with fullback Joe Surratt, for an altercation with police outside a Tallahassee bar. Head coach Bobby Bowden also ordered Hayes to get behavioral counseling and perform community service besides other unspecified internal discipline.
Hayes issued an apology through Florida State to the school, fans, teammates, coaches and his family, "I have always taken pride in representing myself and this university in a positive manner and unfortunately, I did not live up to those standards on this occasion,'' he said. "I realize I cannot make another mistake of this or any other nature.''
More than 30 Seminoles were suspended from playing in the 2007 Music City Bowl due to an athletic department-wide academic scandal. A university official confirmed after the game that Hayes was not enrolled in school, but still played in the contest. Shortly after the bowl's conclusion, Hayes announced he was bypassing his senior year and applying for the 2008 NFL Draft.
Hayes issued the following statement through the university's sports information department: "I would like to announce my decision to leave Florida State University and enter the NFL Draft. This has been the toughest decision I have ever had to make. I would first like to thank Coach (Bobby) Bowden and (assistant) Coach (Chuck) Amato and the rest of the coaching staff for giving me all tools I needed to become a great football player. I would also like to thank my teammates, fellow FSU students and fans for supporting me and most of all, my family for always showing me love, guidance and support."
In 35 games at Florida State, Hayes started 21 contests. He collected 156 tackles (93 solos) with eight sacks for minus-42 yards, 29.5 stops for losses of 113 yards and two quarterback pressures. He caused two fumbles, recovered another and deflected seven passes. He scored on a blocked punt that he recovered in the end zone and also on a 38-yard interception return.