Notre Dame started its push toward National Signing Day by landing one of its top targets.
Four-star linebacker Daelin Hayes ended his national recruitment on Thursday by announcing for the Irish, a program that led for his services nearly two years ago. Hayes chose Notre Dame over Michigan State and Ohio State, which also received official visits down the stretch.
Hayes made the announcement during a press conference at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Mich. The U.S. Army All-American is Notre Dame’s 19th verbal commitment in the Class of 2016.
USC originally scored a commitment from the 6-foot-4, 249-pound prospect during the summer before his junior year. That was about a month after Notre Dame offered Hayes following his standout performance at the Irish Invasion camp. A visit to USC followed that look at Notre Dame, with the Trojans’ commitment coming soon after.
But that relationship began to dissolve after Hayes moved to the West Coast from Michigan and then back to the Midwest for his senior season. When USC fired head coach Steve Sarkisian in early October it opened the door for a public de-commitment.
Other programs, notably Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State, had stayed in touch the whole time. Going back on the open market put those relationships more out in the open.
Notre Dame defensive line coach and area recruiter Keith Gilmore got Hayes back on campus quickly for an official visit coincided with the Irish playing USC at home.
“This visit was different in itself because I’m no longer committed,” Hayes told Irish Illustrated after that trip. “It was a whole different ball game in that respect alone. That’s not even going into the fact that it was an official visit. Obviously, me being on the market and whatnot, it was a great opportunity to see what Notre Dame has to offer, which I have a fairly solid understanding of Notre Dame with the campus and whatnot. They’ve been recruiting me since I was a sophomore. I’ve been on campus quite a few times.”
Hayes went on to visit Michigan State and Ohio State on a couple different occasions. But today during a ceremony at Skyline he doubled back on the Irish, choosing them as his college destination once and for all.
Kelly, Gilmore and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder helped seal that commitment with an in-home visit earlier this week. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio also made an in-home visit this week.
Notre Dame will get Hayes into the program next month after he finishes his high school career at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Hayes joins four-star defensive end Khalid Kareem, wide receiver Kevin Stepherson and safety Spencer Perry as early enrollees in the current recruiting haul.
Hayes, Kareem and defensive end Ade Ogundeji give the Irish three players from Michigan in the Class of 2016. He’s also the seventh commitment ranked in the Scout300 at No. 207 overall.