Things Starting to Clear Up for Hayes

Well-built sophomore athlete is picking up interest from a host of big-time programs. How did his recent trip to Penn State go?

Daelin Hayes isn't the only well-built high school sophomore Penn State is recruiting. And the Nittany Lions certainly aren't the only program recruiting him. But by visiting University Park Saturday, the St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lakes, Mich.) Class of 2016 outside linebacker and running back took a big step forward in his recruitment.

If St. Mary Prep sounds familiar, it should. The same program that produced Lions' record-setting receiver Allen Robinson and former quarterback Rob Bolden — not to mention being the original home of Class of 2015 receiver prospect Van Jefferson — now has Hayes, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound athlete with no offers but interest from Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Penn State and Notre Dame.

"Two weeks ago, my coaches told me Allen is doing really well up at Penn State, so I reached out to them," Hayes said. "They wanted me to come visit, and once they saw my height and weight [in person] they said they were very impressed.

"I talked to [head coach Bill] O'Brien twice, and [linebackers coach Ron] Vanderlinden and Coach O'Brien were saying that they liked the way I carry myself, and my physical stature."

Vanderlinden is leading Hayes' recruitment. The linebacker guru spent plenty of time around his newest target Saturday, showing him around the football facilities at Penn State and answering questions from the prospect and his family after the game.

Hayes hasn't decided yet whether running back or linebacker is the position he prefers to play in college. In all likelihood, he won't until he gets more time at the varsity level. That time was cut short this year, as a separated shoulder in the third game of his season kept him off the field for the Eaglets, who finished 5-4.

Still, he was able to put together an abbreviated highlight tape, which he sent to Vanderlinden. Hayes said the coach was pleased with what he saw. It was the second time he saw the prospect work, as the sophomore also was at Penn State for one of its Advanced Skills Camps this summer.

Penn State running back Zach Zwinak stood out to him Saturday.

"He's a pretty big back, and it's nice to see how they emphasize big plays," Hayes said. "For Allen, seeing him play back in high school, it was great to see him at the next level and what the program has done for him.

"It was nice seeing [Zwinak] getting down field, and scoring three touchdowns. Penn State had a bunch of rushing yards. It's great to see that they are definitely interested in running."

Hayes said that O'Brien informed him the program would "recruit the heck out of him" and both he and Vanderlinden asked him to return to another camp this summer, which he said he intends to do. Before that, he will make some Junior Day visits this winter, and also intends to visit Notre Dame when it plays host to BYU Saturday.

"Just going to a school, you always want to feel wanted, and [Penn State] definitely emphasized that to me," Hayes said. "Defense-wise, they are a linebacker university, so if I was recruited as an outside linebacker or a running back, either way, it would be a great opportunity.

"It was great. They made me feel at home."

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