Australian punter Max Hayes announced via Twitter this morning that he had committed to WVU. Hayes will have two years of eligibility remaining when he arrives in Morgantown but his scholarship status is unknown at this time.
Hayes is expected to join a group of punters that includes walk-ons Evan Matthes and Casey Legg, as well as starting placekicker Evan Staley. The Australia native will likely be a scholarship athlete for the Mountaineers but it is not known what year his scholarship will count against. With the NCAA instituting a 25 scholarship limit per recruiting class, WVU has one spot remaining in the class of 2019. However, Hayes could be considered a blueshirt, enrolling in school after the first day of classes and being counted toward 2020 while remaining eligible to play this upcoming season.
Hayes maintains a rather strong football pedigree coming out of Australia. His younger brother Blake is currently the starting punter for the University of Illinois, earning Third Team All-Big 10 Honors as a sophomore in 2018. In addition to his family ties, Hayes is a product of the same Prokick Australia program that has produced all but one of the Ray Guy Award winners since 2013, including Michael Dickson who WVU fans may remember as a thorn in the Mountaineers’ side from his days in burnt orange as a Texas Longhorn.
It appears that Neal Brown has taken steps to solve a position that had a severe lack of depth going into 2019. Regardless of Max Hayes’ scholarship status, he appears to be a beneficial addition to the Mountaineer special teams and program as a whole.