MADISON, Fla. (WTXL) — For those that watched Geno Hayes come through Madison County High School, it's hard not to remember his greatness on the gridiron. Hayes died Monday after a battle with liver disease, but he's left a legacy that won't be forgotten anytime soon.
"I'll say to this day, I'm almost 30 years into this thing and I've never coached one that had the instincts that he had," said Mike Coe, the current head coach of the Madison County football team. He arrived in Madison County as an assistant coach Hayes' sophomore season.
"He believed in going full speed," added Rod Williams, who was the defensive coordinator at Madison County when Hayes played. "It didn't matter if we were at the beginning of practice or the end of practice. He was going to win that rep."
Hayes was a standout football player at Madison County High School, moved up to varsity his freshman season and helping the Cowboys win a state title.
"There's nowhere he'd rather be than playing with the guys he grew up with," said Coe.
He made sure those guys didn't have to travel far to see him play. Hayes went on to play at Florida State before a seven year NFL career. He died Monday from liver disease. He was 33 years old.
"It makes you understand how valuable life is, how valuable every day is," said Coe.
"I talked to some kids this morning and that was the thing. How do you want to be remembered?" added Williams. "One day you're here, and the next day you're gone."
A legacy left behind, of hard work.
"If you listened to him as a sophomore, he was going to Florida State," remembered Williams. "He was saying that."
"When he came through them doors on game day, he was fearless now," said Coe.
"He really believed that the worst thing to do was embarrass his last name," added Williams.
"He's left a legacy of how to do things the right way," said Coe. "He was a Cowboy through and through."
Hayes funeral service will be Saturday, May 8th at 11am at Madison County's football stadium.