H-SPORTS

Mar 21, 2013 6:17 PM by Andrew Masuda

Lompoc running back Nikko Hayes signs with Idaho State

A second running back from Lompoc High earns a chance to play at the Division I level. Nikko Hayes signed a national letter of intent to Idaho State on Thursday in front of his teammates, coaches and family.

The 6-1, 190 pound Hayes enjoyed a breakout senior season where he stepped in for injured Lavon Coleman, who's signed with the University of Washington. Hayes averaged 11 yards per carry rushing for 1,081 yards on 99 carries. He scored 15 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 2 passes for 52 yards and made 49 tackles with 3 forced fumbles on defense as a linebacker.

Hayes enjoyed a remarkable game against Nipomo last fall when he touched the ball 3 times and scored 3 touchdowns. He rushed for 187 yards on just 3 carries in the first quarter.

Nikko decided to play at Idaho State after visiting the campus earlier this week. He called the decision to become a Bengal an easy one to make.

"Not only do I fit in well as an athlete in the offense, I fit in as a person and in the community. And they have a great exercise science program," said Hayes. "I really like Coach (Mike) Kramer's philosophy. He's won three championships at three other schools in the Big Sky and I think he can turn the program around and I want to be a part of that," he added.

Idaho State competes at the Football Championship Subdivision level and is a member, along with Cal Poly, of the Big Sky Conference. The Bengals are coming off a 1-10 season that included an 0-8 finish in conference. Head coach Mike Kramer is a three-time Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year after stints at Montana State and Eastern Washington.

Last year, the Bengals averaged only 46.5 yards rushing per game. Their top rusher was freshman Xavier Finney, who gained 288 yards on the ground.

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