NORMAN — Oklahoma senior safety Quentin Hayes has come a long way since his year-long suspension in 2012.
Hayes started all 13 games at strong safety last season, and with the defensive backfield losing veterans like Aaron Colvin and Gabe Lynn, Hayes has emerged as a leader for the unit.
“It comes natural,” Hayes said. “I’ve been here five years, so I pretty much know how things go here and how the defense works. I have the answers.”
Hayes was suspended indefinitely in May 2012 along with receivers Jaz Reynolds, Kameel Jackson and Trey Franks. He didn’t play at all the following season, but quickly became a first-teamer the next spring.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has said Hayes could move to nickelback this season because of his experience and knowledge of the system.
“He’s just coming into his own as a player,” Stoops said. “And as good as he played a year ago, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him. I think this will be a great year for him.
“We ask him to do a lot of different things in our defense. He’s become a more consistent and reliable player. And that bodes well. He needs to keep continuing to make plays. I think he has the capabilities and the athleticism to do that.”