Hayes has also played for the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars.
A native of Greenville, Florida, Hayes attended Madison County High School, where he played football and ran track. As a junior, posted 130 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 19 sacks and three interceptions. In his senior year, he added 124 stops with 27 for loss and 11 sacks. Madison County was state championship runner-up in both years. In 2004, they were upset 17–15 by the Javarris James-led Immokalee Indians. They had lost to Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School the year before. Nonetheless, Hayes earned All-America first team honors by Parade Magazine, and second-team USA Today All-America honors. Hayes also starred in track & field, where he competed in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
Regarded as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Hayes was ranked as the No. 3 outside linebacker prospect of his class, behind only Tray Blackmon and Ryan Reynolds. Recruited by dozens of schools, Hayes took official visits to Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, and Florida State. He committed to FSU on February 2, 2005, and was the fourth-highest graded recruit of the Seminoles' 2005 recruiting class, behind Antone Smith, Fred Rouse, and Callahan Bright.
In his true freshman season, Hayes played in all 13 games and was credited with 17 tackles, broke up one pass and had two quarterback hurries. While he played mostly on special teams, Hayes also saw time as a back-up for A. J. Nicholson at weakside linebacker. In a game at Clemson in November 2005, Hayes recorded a season-high three tackles and scored Florida State's only touchdown of the game, recovering a blocked punt in the endzone. He also had three tackles in the Orange Bowl loss to Penn State.
With the graduation of Nicholson in 2006, Hayes replaced him at the weakside linebacker position, starting 10 of Florida State's 13 games. He only missed three games (Maryland, Boston College, Virginia) because of a knee injury suffered in the Seminoles' victory over Duke. He ranked fifth on the team in tackles with a career-high 59 stops despite missing three full games and most of the game against Duke when he suffered two sprained ligaments in his right knee while making a tackle in the first quarter. He also ranked third on the team with a career-high 12.0 tackles for minus yardage, behind Lawrence Timmons (18.0) and Everette Brown (13.5). In the Seminoles' Emerald Bowl win against UCLA, Hayes had a career-high of 12 tackles.
In his junior year, Hayes took over a leadership role in the Seminoles linebacker corps, after the graduation of Timmons and Buster Davis. Starting a weakside linebacker, he ranked second on the team in tackles (80) behind Derek Nicholson (99), first in tackles-for-loss (17.5), and second in quarterback sacks (5.0) behind Everette Brown (6.5). He was a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference pick.
Described as a “smallish, athletic linebacker who makes plays all over the field,” Hayes was projected to be a fourth-round draft pick by Sports Illustrated. He was drafted in the 6th round 175th overall in 2008.
In his rookie year, Hayes appeared in 9 games, mostly on special teams. In 2009, he started at weakside linebacker, replacing Derrick Brooks.
Hayes signed with the Chicago Bears to a one-year deal on April 19, 2012.
Hayes signed a two-year, $2 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on March 13, 2013.
He became a free agent after the 2014 season.
Hayes was allegedly stabbed in the back of the head with a pair of scissors by his 19-year-old girlfriend on March 9, 2009.