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Adversity builds character. And Jerome Hayes has been faced with more adversity the past two years than most athletes deal with in their entire career. For the second consecutive year, Hayes spent most of the fall, winter and spring working hard to rehabilitate a serious knee injury. He came into 2008 ready to play a big role for the Nittany Lion defense and special teams. After 10 months of rehabilitation, Hayes was fully recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, suffered against Wisconsin in mid-October of 2007. He stepped onto the practice field last August with the same tenacious aggressiveness he had previously demonstrated. The rush end's season was moving in the right direction. After making a tackle in the season-opener against Coastal Carolina, Hayes earned his first career start the next week against Oregon State. He made two hits against the Beavers, but his season again was cut far too short, as he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on a special teams play. Hayes had surgery in late September and again has done a fantastic job in his rehabilitation. He is expected to be 100 percent when he returns to the practice field in August for his fifth season. The highly-skilled and intense Hayes once again attacked his rehabilitation with the same passion he brings to the field. He goes to the ball with a ferocious attitude and loves to deliver punishing hits. The former Bayonne HS All-American is a strong and talented athlete, with excellent size and speed and the ability to make big plays. Hayes is a strong leader who should again be among the top contenders for a starting spot at defensive end. Despite not being available to play, Hayes was included on the 70-man travel squad for last year's climactic Ohio State game, a testament to the leadership and passion he continued to exhibit after his injury. He is one of nine returning Nittany Lions from New Jersey. Hayes earned his degree in journalism in May 2009.
2008 Senior Season
Hayes made one tackle in the season-opener with Coastal Carolina and then made his first career start the following week against Oregon State. He recorded two tackles in the 45-14 victory over the Beavers, but his season was cut short for the second straight year, as he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on a special teams play. Hayes had surgery in late September and then began extensive rehabilitation for the second consecutive year. He saw action on 52 snaps, with 35 against Oregon State. Despite not being available to play, Hayes was included on the 70-man travel squad for the Ohio State game, a testament to the leadership and passion he continued to exhibit after his injury.
2007 Junior Season
Hayes was having a major impact on the success of the defense and special teams when he suffered the first of several significant injuries to hit the Nittany Lions in 2007, ending his season after seven games. In his first year as a rush end, he suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on a special teams play in the win over No. 19 Wisconsin and had surgery in late October. Hayes played in the first seven games, recording 17 tackles (10 solo) with three tackles for losses, including 2.5 sacks for minus-13 yards. He recorded a sack in the season-opening shutout of Florida International. The following week, he made two tackles against Notre Dame, tracking and bringing down quarterback Jimmy Clausen for a seven-yard loss in the 31-10 primetime win. Hayes made a career-best six stops (five solo), sharing a tackle for loss, at Michigan. He also made three hits in the wins over Buffalo and Iowa. Hayes saw action on 244 snaps prior to his injury, led by 53 at Michigan.
2006 Sophomore Season
Hayes played in eight games on defense and special teams. He missed five contests with a foot injury. He made five tackles, with two stops each against Akron and Temple. He also recorded a solo tackle for a seven-yard loss at Notre Dame for his first career minus-yardage play. Hayes was on the field for 111 snaps, led by a season-high 32 snaps in the shutout of Temple.
2005 Freshman Season
Hayes was one of the nation's most highly recruited linebackers after concluding his stellar career at Bayonne HS in 2004. He was a 2005 Army All-American for Coach Rick Rodriguez and earned first-team all-state honors his final three years. He also was a Tom Lemming and PrepStar All-American. A linebacker and running back, Hayes recorded 103 tackles, forced eight fumbles and recovered four fumbles as a senior. He also ran for 1,200 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in 2004. Hayes was the conference Defensive Player-of-the-Year as a senior and a three-time all-county selection. He helped Bayonne capture the 2002 state title. Hayes also was a four-year standout on the hardwood.
Full name is Jerome Anthony Hayes. He is the son of Eric and Cheryl Hayes. He has a younger sister, Erica, and lists music and playing basketball as hobbies. He earned his degree in journalism in May 2009 and is working on a second degree, in telecommunications. Born December 12, 1986