Panthers sign former Mountaineer Tae Hayes

Former+App+State+cornerback+Tae+Hayes+dodges+defenders+during+an+interception+return+in+the+New+Orleans+Bowl+victory+over+Middle+Tennessee+Dec.+15%2C+2018.+Hayes+was+signed+to+the+53-man+roster+by+the+Carolina+Panthers+Oct.+25%2C+2022.

Courtesy of Rob Moore, App State Athletics

Former App State cornerback Tae Hayes dodges defenders during an interception return in the New Orleans Bowl victory over Middle Tennessee Dec. 15, 2018. Hayes was signed to the 53-man roster by the Carolina Panthers Oct. 25, 2022.

Chance Chamberlain

The Carolina Panthers announced Tuesday the signing of App State alum Tae Hayes to the 53-man roster after being on the practice squad for most of the year. 

Hayes played defensive back for the Mountaineers from 2015-18 and racked up nine interceptions and 135 tackles during his time in Boone.

After finishing his collegiate career, Hayes went undrafted and played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins in 2019. Hayes traveled around the league on different teams and practice squads before ending up on the Panthers’ practice squad in 2021. However, his play during the preseason with a pick-six against the Patriots and injuries to the Panthers’ secondary has allowed Hayes to be signed and be on the 53-man roster to close out the 2022 season. 

“We always talk about our weapons: eyes, hands and feet,” said Steve Wilks, Panthers interim head coach. “He has great eyes, particularly in the zone concept, you saw that in the pick-six that he got back in the preseason.”

Hayes now joins another App State alum with Wilks. 

“First of all, he’s an App State grad,” Wilks said. “That in itself is enough.”

Former App State cornerback brings in an interception during the New Orleans Bowl Dec. 15, 2018. (Moss Brennan)

Hayes’ unique play has garnered the attention of the organization, as Hayes can play the traditional defensive back position in breaking up passes while also making an impact on the run defense with his tackles.

“Very physical guy and comes up and supports in the run,” Wilks said.

Hayes will likely see the field immediately with injuries plaguing the Panthers, but his teammates and coaches are confident in his impact on the defense.

“He’s progressed and built a lot of confidence in his teammates and him,” Wilks said. “Built a lot of trust with me.”