Akeem Hayes talks about why he flipped from Louisville to Kentucky
It doesn't seem like Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna receiver Akeem Hayes was out to cause a stir when he flipped from Louisville to Kentucky. He didn't seek out the spotlight or make any controversial, inflammatory statements about the Cardinals. He didn't fan the flames of the rivalry.
Nonetheless, when you flip from one of the Commonwealth's Power Five schools to the other, in this 24/7/365 rivalry, you're bound to get a taste of what the red-blue hate is all about.
Hayes spoke with CatsIllustrated.com on Saturday evening now that some time has elapsed since his decision to commit to Kentucky, backing out of his pledge to cross-Commonwealth rival Louisville.
"When I flipped, I did it because I visited Louisville and Kentucky," Hayes explained. "When I visited Kentucky it was like a home away from home. When I visited Louisville I didn't get the same feeling."
Hayes had been recruited by Kentucky before ever stepping foot on campus at either of those schools. But he wasn't leaning toward a flip until he visited both schools.
"It was really just the visits," Hayes said. "When I visited Kentucky I really didn't expect to see what I saw. When I visited Louisville I didn't expect to see what I saw. It was a big difference and I didn't expect that. At Kentucky, everyone is just like a family. Everyone kept coming to me, kept talking to me. It felt like they wanted me to be there. At Louisville I didn't really feel that as much."
Hayes had a verbal offer from Kentucky before visiting Lexington, but Stoops' staff was still anxious to see him in person to make sure he was as good as advertised, and as good as they believed him to be.
CatsIllustrated.com watched him for the first part of camp, and then watched as the coaches told him to take it easy.
"I participated in the first half of camp. Not the second half," Hayes said. "Coach Lamar Thomas and Coach Mark Stoops were like, 'You're good. We like what we see.'"
Kentucky has recruited Hayes as a slot receiver. He's an outside receiver, a slot and a return man at the high school level.
Eddie Gran had a big hand in recruiting Hayes, but he said he had been in contact with Lamar Thomas from a long time ago.
"Coach Thomas is a very nice coach," Hayes said. "He was great when I was working with the receivers."
Hayes said he knows all of Kentucky's commitments from South Florida.
"I'm close to all of them. We all play 7 on 7 together and in tournaments," he said.
That makes the move from red to blue a little easier.
What was Louisville's reaction, from their coaches to fans on social media, when Hayes flipped?
"They were shocked. They were just shocked," he said.
Hayes told CatsIllustrated.com that his signature ability as a wide receiver is the way he gets separation "with no problem" and "in a hurry." He has worked on improving his route running this summer.