Upon presenting a scholarship offer to Hayes Crockett on Tuesday afternoon, the ULM football program did not have to wait very long for an answer from the Sterlington quarterback.
“I got the offer at 12:00 (noon), and pulled the trigger around 4:30,” Crockett said.
Crockett drew interest from several schools, but ULM was his first BCS offer.
“I had an offer from Louisiana College and Grambling was about to offer,” he said.
Though more offers were likely to — and may still — follow, the Warhawks have the advantage of proximity.
“ULM is close to home, and I want to stay close to home so my family can come see me play,” said Crockett, who is academically qualified. “That was really the deciding factor. ULM was one of the teams I really wanted to play for.”
Despite ranking atop his list of preferred schools, Crockett was blindsided by the offer.
“It came out of nowhere,” Crockett said. “I had a good camp there, but the offer was totally unexpected.”
Besides being close to home, Crockett said he felt comfortable with his future coaches and teammates.
“Coach (Matt) Viator, coach (Matt) Kubik and the guys on the team are all good guys,” Crockett said. “I absolutely love it there.”
Committing early enables Crockett to focus on his senior season without the distraction of recruiting.
“I was hunting the whole summer for as many scholarship offers as I could get,” Crockett said. “Now that I have the right offer, it releases a lot of pressure. This puts my mind at ease, so I can just go out there and do my thing.”
A year ago at this time, Crockett was in the midst of adjusting to a new team and a new school. As a transfer from Prairie View Academy in Bastrop, he made the jump from the MAIS to Class 3A.
“Last year was a little different than what I was used to,” Crockett said. “I had been in the triple option before, so that is what I was used to, but being in the public association was a reality check. It took me a couple of games to get used to it.”
Crockett adapted just fine, helping the Panthers to a 12-3 record and a state runner-up finish. He completed 56-of-115 passes for 1,056 yards with 11 touchdowns and only one interception while rushing for 389 yards and seven scores.
Just as Crockett had hoped, transferring to Sterlington brought more exposure.
“This is why I made the jump,” Crockett said of the ULM offer. “I wanted something like this.”
These days, Crockett is completely at ease directing the Panthers’ offense.
“I am a whole lot more comfortable that what I was last year,” Crockett said. “It is so much easier having a year under my belt.”
Besides attending various camps at Louisiana Lafayette, Mississippi College, ULM, Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State, Crockett has been working out with former Louisville quarterback Will Gardner.
Crockett singled out Sterlington coach Lee Doty for his help throughout the recruiting process.
“Coach Doty has gone out of his way for me,” Crockett said. “I would like to personally thank coach Doty, all of our coaches, and of course, Panther Country, for making this day possible.”
A two-sport athlete, Crockett was a right-handed reliever for the Panthers’ state championship baseball team last season.