Grand Blanc's Justice Hayes has been one of the most productive running backs in the state of Michigan over the past two seasons, and he had high expectations entering his senior campaign this fall. A serious injury cut the Notre Dame-bound Hayes' final high school campaign short, however.
The 5-10, 180-pound Hayes injured his wrist in his third game of the season after coming down awkwardly following a catch. That play happened shortly before halftime and Hayes actually returned for the second half, finishing the game with over 150 yards of total offense. Shortly after, however, he realized something was seriously wrong with his wrist.
"Honestly, going into halftime I was thinking it was a sprain," Hayes said. "As time went on and people were banging into it, I thought this was the worst pain I ever went through and my wrist went completely numb.
"They diagnosed it as a dislocated wrist. Before I even got the surgery they told me it was going to be a total of 10 weeks. I had the surgery about a week after they diagnosed it and things went well."
Hayes went through a phase of disappointment over losing his senior season to the injury, but he quickly got refocused on returning to full health so he can start his career at Notre Dame.
"I am going to be working extra hard to get all the mobility back in my wrist so I can show up at Notre Dame 100 percent or even better than before," he said. "I started my finger rehab Friday and it's getting all the strength back to my fingers. In about three weeks they are going to go in and surgically remove the pins, so I'll be able to move my wrist again. I will start my wrist rehab from there and the rest all depends on me."
Hayes has also spent his down time watching his future teammates at Notre Dame this fall. He attended the Irish's first two games of the season and stands firm on the pledge he made to Coach Brian Kelly and his staff this summer.
"I'm strongly committed to Notre Dame," Hayes said. "I just see the potential that the team has even though they lost three games. The Michigan and Michigan State games could have gone either way, so I'm not disappointed in how they've played. I've been very happy with how they are performing."
Hayes is the nation's No. 82 overall prospect and No. 4 all-purpose back. He rushed for a combined 1,417 yards and 22 touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons for Grand Blanc and had three additional touchdowns this fall before the injury.