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OU football: Quentin Hayes thrilled to be back playing football

The Sooners' strong safety has earned his way back on the field.
by Ryan Aber Published: September 2, 2013

NORMAN — Quentin Hayes wasn't a part of Oklahoma's defense when it traveled to West Virginia last November.

By that time, Hayes was back with the team but serving a yearlong suspension following an unspecified violation of team rules.

Entering Saturday's Big 12 opener against the Mountaineers, Hayes is big part of the Sooner secondary. He earned the starting spot at strong safety entering last week's season opener against Louisiana-Monroe.

It had been a long time coming for Hayes, who hadn't played since the Bedlam game to close the regular season in 2011.

“It's been a long time,” Hayes said. “It was a drag (last year). I had to do a lot of things to get back on the team. I was just anxious to get back out there this year.”

Hayes returned with a pair of tackles against the Warhawks, but his presence was even bigger, Sooners coaches said.

“He really tackled well, was where he needed to be all the time,” coach Bob Stoops said.

Hayes is one of the faster safeties the Sooners have had for awhile.

That has taken pressure off free safety Gabe Lynn.

“I think Quentin Hayes adds a dimension to our secondary we haven't had with the speed and athleticism to cover along with Gabe.”

Whatever he was doing, Hayes was just happy to be back on the field.

Hayes was one of four players — Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson were the others — suspended in May 2012. Hayes was removed from scholarship for his transgressions and had to earn his way back on the team.

The Lancaster, Texas, native had already burned his redshirt year, so he lost a year of eligibility in the process.

“It was tough last year,” Hayes said. “It kind of messed with your head, but I love football so it was something you've just got to do.”

Hayes said he never considered leaving. He said teammates kept encouraging him.

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