Skyler Mayes already had a connection to the Eastern Illinois football program. When EIU assistant head coach Cary Fowler started to recruit Mayes, he told Fowler who his dad was, Kim Mayes. Fowler told Mayes he only knew one Kim Mayes. It was the same Kim Mayes that Fowler knew and they played against each other in high school.
That was one of a few things that sold Skyler Mayes on playing football on EIU. From having a good connection with Fowler and enjoying his visits to EIU, it all sold Mayes on playing college football in Charleston.
So earlier this week, Mayes tweeted out that he verbally committed to play football at EIU.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play college football. This past July is when they started contacting me," Mayes said. "When I got there, it felt like home. I talk to coach Fowler all of the time about coming up there and how ready I am. I am excited for it and it will be a good opportunity."
Mayes also had offers from Morehead State and Kentucky State, and he talked with Memphis and drew a bit of interest from Cincinnati. But he said EIU was fully committed in him as a player and offered him a full scholarship.
"Education is important. I got a full ride from them and the other schools, the coaches were awesome, but they were giving me partials," Mayes said. "Going up to Charleston, as soon as I stepped on campus there, the fan base was awesome. It's not a massive school, but I like it and the staff is amazing. Having coach Fowler around is like having another father figure. Overall, I liked it and it has a home-away-from-home feeling."
Mayes is a middle linebacker and punter from McCracken County High School in Paducah, Kentucky. Mayes will be a linebacker at EIU.
Mayes also looked at the good tradition of linebackers EIU has had. Kamu Grugier-Hill is currently with the Philadelphia Eagles. Adam Gristick is an assistant coach at Syracuse. Seth McDonald was an All-Ohio Valley Conference player at EIU, and Nick Horne just wrapped up a good career at EIU. Joe Caputo and Dytarious Johnson return next season and both played key roles this past fall.
Mayes hopes to follow in the same tradition.
"I feel like Coach Fowler will have the linebackers in the right place, and I feel the skills I bring fit in well," Mayes said. "I like to run downhill and fit in the gaps. He likes players that fly to the ball, and I feel I fit the scheme. ... I think I have as good of a chance (as the past linebackers). I just have to work and show what I can do, and I think I will have success."