Notre Dame offer has Daelin Hayes jumping for joy
As an eighth-grader, Daelin Hayes set a goal: he wanted to be a high school All-American.
With that objective in mind, he searched online for players to model his game after. He eventually settled on linebacker Jaylon Smith and running back Greg Bryant.
So when the two current Notre Dame players were standing nearby at Friday night’s Irish Invasion camp, Hayes was admittedly giddy.
A 6-foot-3, 225-pound rising junior, Hayes plays both running back and linebacker at Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s. On Friday, he excelled at linebacker.
“People tell me all the time that I remind them of Jaylon Smith,” Hayes said. “It was crazy being coached by one of my role models, a guy I try to model my game after.”
At the conclusion of the camp, Hayes was given an opportunity to follow in Smith’s footsteps when the Irish coaching staff extended him an offer. The news came shortly after a celebration of the last rep of one-on-ones.
“We knocked it down and I just see Jaylon's big ole self jumping in the air, so I jumped with him,” Hayes said. “Coach (Bob) Elliott was jumping up and down. Coach (Brian) VanGorder was jumping up and down. Everybody was going crazy. We were doing all that, and they said we can't let you leave here. We want to coach you. You have an offer from us. I went over to coach (Brian) Kelly and he told me the same thing."
Hayes, on his third visit to Notre Dame, responded with elation.
"I was speechless,” Hayes said. “When they told me, I was very excited. I was at a loss for words. It was a great feeling. Notre Dame's always been one of my favorite schools.”
In Hayes, the Irish offered a long and athletic linebacker with the ability to make plays in coverage and track down the ball in the backfield. 247Sports slates him as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the 2016 class and No. 53 regardless of position.
He already holds a host of offers, including Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State two months before he starts his junior season. An eventual decision is likely a year away, Hayes said, but the Irish have cemented themselves as a serious contender.
"I just enjoyed myself. It was a great time. Notre Dame is a great place to be."
Decision date for Hilliard
Following weekend visits to Notre Dame and Ohio State, 2015 linebacker target Justin Hilliard is ready to make a commitment. On July 2, he will share that decision with the world in an announcement ceremony at Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High School.
The Irish and Buckeyes sit as front-runners for Hilliard’s pledge, with Michigan, Iowa and Alabama rounding out his top five. 247Sports slates Hilliard as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the class and No. 13 regardless of position. Rivals ranks him as the No. 1 inside line-backer and No. 49 overall.
Alabama defensive end commit Mekhi Brown reported an offer from Notre Dame after arriving on campus Saturday. Brown and some of his teammates from Columbus (Ga.) Carver are in town to visit and take part in Notre Dame’s position camps being run through Wednesday.
Brown, a four-star prospect, verbally committed to Alabama in April. Rivals ranks the 6-5, 215-pounder as the No. 3 weakside defensive end in the 2015 class and No. 46 regardless of position. 247Sports slates him as the sixth-best player at his position and No. 35 over-all.
Also with Brown is 2016 quarterback target Jawon Pass. In March, the Irish made the 6-4, 210-pound Pass the first quarterback they offered in his class. He’s rated as the top dual-threat quarterback for 2016 by 247Sports and CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
Wide receiver Ryan Newsome released a top five on Saturday, and the Irish made the cut. The 5-9, 175-pound senior-to-be at Aledo (Texas) High named Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA and Notre Dame as his top schools.
247Sports slates Newsome as a four-star prospect, the No. 30 wide receiver and No. 226 regardless of position. Rivals rates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 41 wide receiver.
• Once again, Oregon may emerge as an obstacle to Notre Dame's 2015 quarterback recruitment. On Saturday, the Ducks offered top Irish target Travis Waller. The 6-3, 190-pounder from Anaheim (Calif.) Servite has yet to visit the Irish but has expressed plans to do so before a July 1 decision.
The Oregon offer could shake up Waller's top four schools (Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Northwestern) and shift his timeline for a decision.
247Sports slates Waller as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 class. Rivals ranks him fifth at the position. Notre Dame's previous commitment, Blake Barnett, dropped the Irish following a trip to Oregon. However, the Ducks lost out on him last week when he gave his pledge to Alabama.
• On Saturday, Penn State landed a recruit to fill the loss of Notre Dame linebacker commit Josh Barajas. Outside linebacker Manny Bowen, a three-star prospect from Barnegat, N.J., announced a verbal commitment to the Nittany Lions.
Barajas, who originally pledged to Penn State, flipped his commitment to Notre Dame in May. Bowen also held a Notre Dame offer.
Tyler James: 574-235-6214