Sterlington quarterback Hayes Crockett made it official Wednesday morning, signing a national letter of intent with ULM on the first day of the early signing period.
Crockett verbally committed to continue his career with the Warhawks in July, and never considered going elsewhere.
“I pretty much shut it down after that,” Crockett said of the recruiting process. “I wanted to go to ULM all along, and nothing has changed since I committed over the summer.”
ULM’s proximity appealed to Crockett.
“It’s close to home, so my family doesn’t have to go very far to see me play,” Crockett said. “It will be an easier transition being surrounded by people I already know.”
Crockett’s transition will start sooner than later as he plans to enroll for the spring semester in January.
“They first talked to me about enrolling early, but the playoffs were coming up, so I never really gave it much thought,” Crockett said. “They came back and talked to me about it again after the playoffs, and I made the decision to go ahead with it. I’ll be in for spring practice.”
Sterlington coach Lee Doty expects enrolling early to work in Crockett’s favor.
“ULM is not signing Hayes to stand around. They are signing him because they know he’s going to play pretty soon,” Doty said. “ULM is high on Hayes. They don’t ask everyone to enroll early. By asking him to come in early, it shows they want him to come in, learn the system and compete.”
Crockett is excited about the opportunity to play in the spread offense. Though the Panthers occasionally went spread, the I-veer was their base offense.
“I’m looking forward to running the spread,” Crockett said. “The spread is my favorite offense. I’m not a veer quarterback by any means. I like being in the spread, and slinging it around.”
Doty expects Crockett to thrive in the Warhawks’ system.
“Hats off to ULM for looking beyond Hayes’ stats, and the way they projected him,” Doty said. “They like his size and mobility, and they love his arm. He has all the tools you need.”
Doty says Crockett has the work ethic to go with those tools.
“Hayes is a smart guy as well,” Doty said. “He is going to work as hard as you want, plus some.”
Crockett realizes a new set of challenges await in the spring as he moves up to the collegiate level.
“Adapting to a new system, learning a new offense and learning to read defenses will be the biggest part of the transition,” Crockett said. “No doubt, the speed of the game will be different.”
Crockett noticed a higher level of speed Tuesday afternoon when the East squad held its first practice for Saturday’s I-20 Bowl at Ruston High School.
“Our first all-star practice kind of gave me a hint of what I’ll see in college,” Crockett said. “We had some 4.4 guys running around out there. I haven’t seen this solid of a defensive team in a while.”
Crockett is the first player from Sterlington to sign with ULM football since linebacker Cody McGuire in 2014.
“Not only is this a big day for Hayes and his family, it’s a huge day for Sterlington football,” Doty said. “It shows that kids can come to Sterlington and be recruited.
“Hayes is family, so we are going to miss him. But it’s going to be a joy to watch him compete, and continue his career at ULM.”
Crockett threw for 1,014 yards with11 touchdowns and six interceptions, and rushed for 274 yards and nine scores while helping the Panthers to a 12-1 record and a Class 3A quarterfinal appearance last season.
As a junior, Crockett passed for 875 yards with an 11:1 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio. He also rushed for 349 yards and seven TDs for Sterlington’s state runner-up team.
Crockett began his varsity career at Prairie View Academy where he played for coaches Matt Middleton and Bo Barton. He helped the Spartans advance to the MAIS state quarterfinals as a freshman and the semifinals as a sophomore.