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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas offensive line coach Dustin Fry directs his players Saturday, March 10, 2018, during practice at the university practice field in Fayetteville. - Photo by Andy Shupe

Junior offensive lineman Garrett Hayes is a combination of freakish athletic ability and high character, making him a high priority for the University of Arkansas for the 2020 class.

Hayes, 6-5, 270 pounds, of Athens, Texas, has scholarship offers from Arkansas, TCU, Baylor, Houston and Oklahoma State and interest from numerous others.

Athens basketball Coach Clifford Thompson knew early on Hayes' athletic ability was on a different level.

"First time I saw him as a coach was as an eight-grader," Thompson said. "He was already the biggest player to play basketball in Athens as an eighth-grader. He was running the 100-meter dash as an eighth-grader at 6-foot-5 and however much he weighed and I was like, 'Oh my gosh this kid is unbelievable.' "

Hayes, who has recorded 4.85 seconds in the 40-yard dash, first noticed he was fast while in middle school.

"I didn't know I was fast until the coaches told me," Hayes said. "I never really thought about it."

For the first time since the eighth grade, Hayes is playing basketball and giving opponents fits.

"His speed and power [are] almost comical sometimes watching him and guys trying to block him out and get position on him, it's just not going to happen," Thompson said. "He moves extremely [well] for someone his size and height and weight It's pretty remarkable. I've never been around anybody like that."

Thompson's respect for Hayes went up when he was meeting some friends to eat an early morning breakfast in the fall.

"He was there and he had paid for his youth pastor's breakfast for bible study at 6 a.m. because that's the only time he could do it because of football season," Thompson said. "He made that enough of a priority. ... That really opened my eyes to how good of a kid he is in keeping that commitment to keep his life balanced."

Hayes earned his offer from the Hogs with a strong performance at camp in Fayetteville in June. An avid hunter and fisherman, Hayes liked what he saw in the area.

"It was mainly the environment," said Hayes, whose mother played basketball at Texas A&M. "I like it pretty well, I like the country around it. There's a lot of places to fish and a lot of places to hunt. I like the people."

Associate head coach and running backs coach Jeff Traylor and offensive line coach Dustin Fry visited the school on Nov. 26, while Traylor also visited earlier this week.

"They're good coaches," Hayes said. "They're the ones that talk to me a lot. They're really good friends. They're nice people, nice coaches. They talk good and check up on me every now and then."

Thompson has been impressed with Hayes' attitude coming from the football field.

"His work ethic and attitude is just great," Thompson said. "He's coming off the bench. A lot of guys coming from football and use to playing all the time, and one of the star players they don't like to take that role of coming off the bench and not being the star. He takes it in stride and he does whatever he can to help the team."

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 12/09/2018

Print Headline: Texas O-lineman doesn't get pushed around

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