“God works in mysterious ways”
That was the reaction when Josh Hayes saw the Tampa area code during the 2023 NFL Draft. Hayes was drafted in the 6th round of the draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was the same team his uncle Geno, played for from 2008 to 2011. His uncle passed away in 2021 due to complications of liver disease.
Hayes played at North Dakota State and Virginia before transferring to the Kansas State for his final college season.
In 2022, Hayes started each of the final 13 games at Kansas State, ranking third on the team with 71 tackles and tackles for loss (5.5). He posted a pass breakup in six-consecutive games during the middle of the year.
Said USA Today writer, Jason Kunno, of the pick by the Buccaneers, “Though the secondary lost several key players this offseason, the Bucs did not address the defensive backs until the sixth round when they took Kansas State CB Josh Hayes. Less heralded than teammate Julius Brents, Hayes has functional athleticism and solid instincts in coverage. Hayes comes with years of experience after playing 68 games over five years. His most likely path to playing time in Tampa is at nickel corner, which was vacated by former Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting.”
The Buccaneers are planning on using Hayes as a nickel back this upcoming season. Said Hayes during mini camps of the nickel package. “I am getting introduced to the system, and first steps first day and getting introduced to it and understand how things work and all that.”
As for his uncle Geno, along with playing for the Buccaneers, he played for the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars. His uncle’s careers stats were:
Total tackles: 401
Forced fumbles: 6
Fumble recoveries: 1
Defensive touchdowns: 2
Hayes is very proud and honored to play for the same team as his late uncle. “He was kind of our role model in that sense,” Hayes said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “He was the person that as I was growing up, that made me feel like making it to the NFL was possible. He was somebody that I called frequently, and we talked all the time about life, football, and the things that come with it that intertwine together, life and football. So, just being able to balance all that stuff, that’s really what we talked about. . . . Hopefully, he’s watching down on me right now smiling.”