Listening as his older brother was about to answer a question, Tae Hayes glanced over and smiled.
Hayes knew exactly what was about to be said. No words necessary.
For twins, that’s how life goes.
There are no secrets between Tae and Trae Hayes. Their lives have been intertwined since birth.
The Decatur High sophomores are identical twins — even though Trae has a slightly larger build — so the list of similarities the two share seems almost never ending.
“We’re pretty close,” said Tae, who plays defensive back for Decatur. “We’re always together. It’s pretty fun.”
There’s rarely a dull moment with the Decatur twins.
Jokes are frequent, and brotherly jabs occur quite often.
When asked if he had any dirt on his brother, Trae, a 5-foot-11 and 177-pound linebacker, perked up and took advantage of the opportunity to take a dig at his twin.
“(Tae) is a crybaby,” Trae joked.
The retort came instantly.
“But I always get the best of him,” Tae responded.
“Don’t listen to him. That’s not true,” Trae said with a smile. “I’m tougher than he is.”
All kidding aside, the Hayes brothers are close. They’re also tenacious football players who star prominently on Decatur’s defense.
Trae, a second-year starter who is eight minutes older than his brother, leads Decatur with 34 tackles. Tae, a 5-foot-11 and 175 pound defensive back has only 14 tackles, but leads the Red Raiders with three interceptions, including one he returned 60 yards for a touchdown against Hazel Green.
“They have a real passion for the game,” Decatur coach Jere Adcock said.
“These guys are extremely competitive. There’s always a competition between them. They work out together, and they’re always pushing each other to do more. That’s made both of them better football players.”
The camaraderie the twins share can’t be matched. Tae and Trae are close. Extremely close.
Does that relationship carry over to the football field?
“Absolutely,” Tae said. “I always know what he’s thinking and how he plays. Having such a close bond with a teammate makes both of us better.”
“We’re very competitive,” he said. “When we go home, we’re always outside throwing the football or playing basketball together. But because we’re always around each other, always talking football, it’s almost like we know what the other is going to do before it happens.”
That showed in Decatur’s season opener against Athens when Tae returned a punt 35 yards. Most of those yards came after Trae delivered a bone-jarring block that leveled an Athens defender—one that drew an instantaneous gasp from the fans at Ogle Stadium.
“Trae and Tae are wonderful kids to have on your football team,” Adcock said. “They’re both good players, but more importantly, they’re good kids. They do well in the classroom, and that’s made them smarter players, which is what you always want.
“They’re also good to have in the locker room because of the excitement they bring. They’re pulling for each other, and pulling for their teammates. Good attitudes like that can make a team better.”
Natural talent is a big part of the twins’ football success. The same can be said about maturity, which is intriguing since at barely 15, Tae and Trae are younger than most of their Decatur classmates.
Being among the youngest students in Decatur’s Class of 2015 hasn’t hurt Tae and Trae. Both are bright students who hold their own academically and athletically.
But there is one drawback.
“It used to not bother me,” Tae said. “But now everyone in our class is turning 16, and they’re getting cars and can drive. I don’t like that part of it. But besides that, you can’t really tell that we’re younger than everyone else.”
That holds true on the football field, too. These budding stars appear destined for stardom.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Football is important to the twins. It’s the topic of many household conversations.
If Tae blows an assignment, Trae lets his brother know. And vice versa.
Don’t expect that to change anytime soon — if ever. If the twins’ plans come to fruition, they will be involved with the game for a while.
“I want to be a teacher and high school football coach,” Tae said. “I’m almost certain that’s what I want to do after I graduate. I love the game and I know that I’d love working with kids, the same way our coaches work with us. It sounds like the perfect job for me.”
“I can’t imagine me doing anything else,” he said. “I’d love to be a high school coach. To me, it sounds like one of the best jobs you could have.”
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