Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Bucs think LB Geno Hayes could be a 'dominant player'

Geno Hayes, shown at camp, returned a pickoff for a score last season at Arizona.


Geno Hayes, shown at camp, returned a pickoff for a score last season at Arizona.

TAMPA — To coach Raheem Morris, the potential for weakside linebacker Geno Hayes is special.

"He can be a dominant player," Morris said.

Hayes, 24, has used athleticism, aggressiveness and awareness to lead the Bucs in tackles for loss each of the past two seasons.

But though the former Florida State standout is no stranger to "splash plays," from big hits to picks, coaches say they need to see consistency on every play.

"He has the speed, he has the hands, he has the awareness, he has the 'want-to,' " Morris said. "It's just about him putting it all together and doing all the things we grade each other (on), being fast, smart, consistent, the code. If he goes out and does those things consistently, he'll be what we think he is."

Linebackers coach Joe Baker sees Hayes making steps in that direction, taking great notes in meetings and asking detailed questions.

"It's showing up on the field,'' Baker said. "It's just sometimes, one of Hayes' biggest strengths can also be a weakness if relied on too much.

"Geno is a guy who has probably just made a lot of plays just because he has great instincts. He can't always tell you exactly what he saw or what he felt, he just smelled the ball, and goes and gets it. Sometimes that's great, and sometimes, you're not supposed to do that. I think he's understanding better when he can take those shots and when he's got to play his responsibility."

Part of it is maturity. Hayes was just 20 when he was drafted in the sixth round in 2008, and played nine games in a year he would have been a senior.

Hayes, who has started 29 of 32 games since, has had off-field issues; he showed up late the morning of a game Sept. 13, 2009 against the Cowboys (he was benched to start the game), and was arrested in December on charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing after a dust-up with security at the Blue Martini Lounge in Tampa (he wasn't prosecuted for disorderly conduct and pleaded no contest to trespassing).

Hayes promised an arrest would never happen again, and wants to be more responsible on the field, too, including an increased leadership role.

"I'm really trying to be that guy that puts a spark on the squad, keeping guys up and not really wearing my emotions on my sleeve like I used to," Hayes said. "That's one of the biggest things. I know a lot of guys look back at me, 'What's going on here?' What do I have to do here?' I'm just trying to be a better leader and knowing what's going on for the whole defense."

Hayes hopes to build off of a strong season in which he ranked second on the team with 104 tackles last season, plus an interception returned for a touchdown and four sacks. He's still young with high energy, as seen both on the field and on Twitter (@GenoHayes54), where he's one of the most active Bucs. But it's all about channeling his emotions the right way.

"I heard (Ravens star linebacker) Ray Lewis say when I was little, 'You've got to be as hot as fire and as cool as ice,' " Hayes said. "That's the kind of mentality I've got to take right now and learn how to control when I get hyper and know when to cool out before a play."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Tampa Bay Bucs think LB Geno Hayes could be a 'dominant player' 08/16/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  2. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. gets extra day off to let hip heal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Steven Souza Jr. ran in rightfield before batting practice under the watchful gaze of the Rays training staff and manager Kevin Cash. Afterward, Souza told Cash he could use one more day of rest before playing on the left hip he strained Wednesday in Oakland.

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brad Miller (13) gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after his solo home run in the fourth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 21, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: FS1; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  4. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    Looks like LF Corey Dickerson is coming out of his funk at the plate — .186 average in past 16 games entering Friday. He had two hits Wednesday in Oakland and three hits Friday against the Rangers. Okay, one was an infield hit that bounced high in front of the plate, but the other was a long home run to …

  5. History shows Ole Miss upheaval tough to overcome


    After Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday, with the opener six weeks away, offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim head coaching position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations.

    After coach Jim Tressel resigned, Ohio State went 6-7, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl, in 2011.