On the morning of January 8th, Vidalia High School wide receiver Sema’J Hayes found out the incredible news that only young football players dream of, and that is to be recognized on ESPN. Not only was Sema’J’s leaping touchdown catch in the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game shown on ESPN’s NFL Countdown in front of millions of people, but the person that gave him a shoutout was none other than one of the greatest receivers in the history of the NFL and that was Randy Moss.
Being shown on national television and having he and West teammate Bryce Curtis’ name being mentioned on the famous sports segment “You Got Mossed” means the world to Sema’J Hayes and is something that he never thought would ever be possible.
“Being on ESPN and being recognized by Randy Moss was one of the best experiences of my life. We all as athletes dream to be in that position and to be blessed to be on ESPN is still unbelievable. It was a dream come true literally!”
It was Gridiron Football that gave him the opportunity to show off his athleticism and he did not disappoint. Headlined by that spectacular touchdown grab that was on “You Got Mossed”, Hayes proved that he was not a one hit wonder. In fact, what was left out in all of the national noise from the first touchdown was that the playmaking receiver also scored the game winning touchdown for the West to have his second touchdown reception of the game. It is definitely safe to say that the mission was accomplished for the 6’3, 175 pound athlete.
“Going into the bowl game, my goal was to learn from the people there and to show my talent at wide receiver to hopeful catch the eye of some colleges. With my performance and experience, I think I achieved my goals and more.”
The performance was definitely spectacular and is certainly a performance that Hayes will not forget, but the game was only a small part in what was a successful week for him.
“My favorite part about the whole bowl game experience was being around guys from all over who were great athletes like myself. Everybody had different personalities but everybody was fun and positive and it made the whole experience something to remember for life.”
The experience was indeed worthwhile as he has received offers ever since the game ended.
“Before the bowl game, I was highly recruited from multiple schools in Louisiana, but was never offered. After the game, I have received two offers from Centenary College of Louisiana and John Melvin University. I am still looking and praying for more offers!”
The craziest part about Hayes’ game as a wide receiver was that the bowl game was truly the first time he got to showcase his talent at that position.
“I played wide receiver in 9th grade other than the bowl game. Playing quarterback for majority of my high school career has made me a better football player mentally more than physically. Being the quarterback of a team, you have to learn how to be strong in the mind on the field by knowing offenses and defenses, but also how to be mentally strong off the field because everybody is looking at you and knows you so you have to be as careful about what you say and do as possible.”
Playing at Vidalia High School in Vidalia, Louisiana, he was one of the team’s best athletes and played quarterback out of necessity. Although naturally a receiver, Hayes was a standout high school quarterback for the Vikings as an All-District performer and an All-State Honorable Mention selection. In his senior season, Hayes led the Vikings to a winning season by completing 116 of 212 passes for 1,641 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions. To add to his yardage total, Hayes carried the football 99 times for 421 yards and 12 touchdowns. For Hayes, it was not the numbers or the individual success, but it was helping build a winning culture that he got the most out of his four year playing experience.
“My most prideful achievement isn’t a stat or a rewards. It’s giving my high school football team its first winning season in four years and being apart of rebuilding a winning culture into the program for the future teams and kids who come behind me.”
Playing quarterback has helped the Vidalia star gain an appreciation of not only the position, but how to lead a team and to do so with confidence.
“My biggest strength to my game is my knowledge and understanding of the game. Playing quarterback in high school requires a high understanding of offense and defense. So even when I’m at wide receiver, my quarterback experience helps me know where to be and how to beat coverages to become open.”
“What I love most about football is the feeling of being around the brotherhood environment! Being able to have a group of guys who all love the game around you is just amazing and magical. Having that brotherhood makes Friday night electric! Every since my first time playing football, I knew I could be pretty good. From playing in the backyard to actually playing for a organized team, I was always looked up on as one of the best so since a child, I’ve hung that over my head to try to always be the best!”
For years, Hayes has been a team player and has done whatever the team has asked of him, but it was time to show off the position he would play in college and he did just that showing what his upside is at the position.
“Being able to finally show my talent at wide receiver is very big to me because it has always been the position that had my heart. The creativity you are allowed to have at wide receiver is so beautiful to me, and I think through my route running and playmaking ability, I use that creativity well. I’m glad I was able to finally show it so people can now believe it. “
To help him prepare for the position, Hayes has watched film on some of the best pass catchers in the game including NFL All-Pro receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers and the Las Vegas Raiders.
“Someone that I like to model my myself after in the NFL and I like to study is Davante Adams. The creativity that Davante Adams bring to route running and his release has always stood out to me so I like to copy his game in different ways.”
Despite his talent, he does know that football does eventually run his course, but he wants to continue to impact people off the field in the same fashion he has done so on the field.
“After my football days are over, I want to have a career in some form of engineering and eventually become a entrepreneur and investor in all sorts of different things. The main thing I want to do throughout my life even when playing football is to continue to spread the Gospel about my lord and savior Jesus Christ! “
What is most impressive about Sema’J Hayes is that not only he is a fantastic football player, but he is a great student that has a 3.5 GPA and is also a faithful person that knows what his priorities are.
“People I want to thank for helping me to become the person I am today is my mom, grandparents, godparents, my whole high school coaching staff, and more importantly, God!”
The college that does get Sema’J Hayes is getting a player that is not only athletic, talented, and full of tremendous upside, but is also getting a great student and team player that is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
“Colleges who are willing to give me a opportunity are getting a loyal, hardworking, and trustworthy player who will give his all for the fans, players, coaches, and for himself!”
To watch Sema’J Hayes’ highlights, click below!
To check out Sema’J Hayes in the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game, click below!