Here’s how Emma Hayes, star fullback at Washington, helps change culture

Fullback Emma Hayes, known for her “legendary” runs on the kickoff, has been a fixture at the University of Washington for 12 years, and for good reason.

“Everyone likes to talk about ‘Hayes foreshadowing.’ People say ‘Hayes foreshadowing this and Hayes foreshadowing that.’ I’ve done that since I can remember. I’ve always been a ‘tomahawk forward,’” Hayes said with a smile Friday night before a big kickoff to a three-game losing streak.

“Everyone’s always talking about the finish on the kickoff.”

But Hayes, 30, is more than just a runner. She is a star on the special teams and senior leader in the program’s history. She has a 400-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to go with four 50-yard kickoffs, including a 99-yarder against Stanford during her freshman year in 2004. Last year she was the first U-Duber since Mel Battle in 1984 to be named Special Teams Player of the Year by the Washington Football Coaches Association. She is also a two-time All-American from Special Teams.

But she’s also the first star in a decade to start in every game on defense. With a career total of 51 tackles, her biggest asset is her versatility. This season she starts at defensive end and at defensive tackle.

Hayes wants to help change the culture at U-Dub, which has not had a top-rated recruiting class since 2005.

“I think recruiting can improve here because of the people that we have in the program,” she said. “The team is built to last, so if we can add some new faces to the program like a talent infusion, I think that will put us on a different path.”

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