Junior linebacker Daelin Hayes might be more easily identified by the school he is committed to for 2016 than his current high school.
The four-star Army All-American selection has bounced around from Lake
Orchard (Mich.) to Ventura (Calif.) back to Detroit (Mich.) and now Ann
Arbor (Mich.) in less than a year. But Hayes change in locale hasn’t
changed his mind about where he wants to play college football.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker remains solidly committed to USC.
“I called the coaches I told them I wanted to get back down to USC next
week,” said Hayes. “I told my parents that this was something I really
wanted to do as well.
“I’ll be on campus for four days starting the 16th. It’s going to be
the first time I’m on campus since I left California, so I’m really
excited about it.”
Hayes commit to USC last spring and then moved out to Ventura (Calif.)
to attend St. Bonaventure High School. Amidst custody issues with him
moving out of state and away from his father, Hayes was forced to return
to Michigan midseason.
“My mom travels a lot for work, and that’s why we were able to make
that move out to Cali, said Hayes. “But my dad made it a court
situation where in order for a minor to leave the state, they have to
have consent from both parents.
“My father wouldn’t sign with consent, so legally I had to come back.
I’m at Skyline High School now, and with my mom having moved around for
work since I was about 6-year-old, I’m used to going to different
schools. Now it’s just become publicized.
“But the moving has taught me how to adjust. I’m able to make friends
and adjust to different people and different scenery no matter where I
go. That’s why the transition to living in Cali was so smooth.”
Granted, with the temperatures in Michigan hovering around the single
digits this time of year, there were many aspects to living in Southern
California that he happily adjusted to.
Perhaps the biggest change in moving back and forth between the two
states is the football.
“There’s a whole different type of swag in Cali,” said Hayes. “Back
here in the Midwest, you get a few top guys to play against, but it’s
apples and oranges compared to the level of competition in California.
The game is much faster out there.”
Having said that, Hayes hasn’t played a full season of football in two
years. Stepping back on the field, regardless of what state or high
school he is playing for, is something Hayes looks forward to.
“Yeah, you can only control what you can control,” said Hayes. “It’s
been an interesting process to say the least. Because of the MHSAA
transfer rules, I had to sit out last season and I was injured the
season before that.
“It definitely changes your outlook on things. I started to think about
it, and there are two reasons for a freshman not being able to play in
college right away. There’s the physical aspect of not being ready, and
then there’s the mental side.
“Not being able to play this past season, it gave me an opportunity to
really learn the game of football. You have to pick up a system and
process the scheme mentally. When I came back from Cali, all I could
really do is work out and watch the game.
“It’s given me the opportunity to study film and critique the small
things. I’ve been able to work on my fundamentals and the details of
playing linebacker. Obviously, I miss those game reps, but I’ll get
that back. I mean, from the little I did play as a sophomore, I got
nine scholarship offers.”
Big, physical and fast. That describes the linebackers USC has signed
in the last two recruiting cycles. Just a week ago, USC collected 17
stars worth of linebacker talent in Cameron Smith, Osa Masina, Porter Gustin and John Houston.
Instead of being scared off by the Trojans No. 1 rated recruiting
class, Hayes was cheering them on.
“Yeah, I started to notice how good the class was coming together when
they had like eight recruits playing in the Army game,” said Hayes. “I
was like, ‘Whoa.’
“I tweeted out that we were cleaning house. Then they had Osa Masina,
John (Houston), (Iman) Marshall… all of those guys committed. They got
a bunch of great players and I can’t wait to play with them.”
Of course, still a year away from signing his own letter of intent,
Hayes is already receiving plenty of attention from other colleges.
Living in the shadow of the big House in Ann Arbor doesn’t make Trojan
fans feel any better about his recruitment either.
“Since I got off the plane from Cali it’s been ridiculous,” said Hayes.
“Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Duke… they’ve all
been by to see me.
“I’d say Tennessee and Penn State are probably pressing the hardest
right now. Of course, with Michigan just down the street from my new
school, I talk to them as well.
“But I look at it like this; when you’re married or engaged, you don’t
tell your fiancé you want to still weigh your options. You have to be
solid with your decision, and if you weren’t ready for it, you
shouldn’t have committed. I’m solid with USC.”
Living in Southern California for five months did a lot to reinforce Hayes
decision to stick with USC. However, he has other reasons to remain
loyal to his original pledge.
“The one thing that really sold me on USC is that they put their babies
out there,” said Hayes. “Adoree, Juju… they had like eight freshmen
start last season. When we really get rocking, when these freshmen get
to be juniors and seniors, USC is going to be back on top - national
“Me being able to play for a national title right away was one of my
biggest goals. That’s what Coach Sark and Coach Sirmon talked to me
about when I first committed.”
And USC linebacker coach Peter Sirmon and head coach Steve Sarkisian
maintain a constant presence in Hayes recruitment despite being 2,300
“I talk to Coach (Peter) Sirmon at least once a week,” said Hayes. “I
spoke to Coach Sark last week too, but with Coach Sirmon, we stay in
constant contact. He came down to the school a while back to watch me
“He’s really excited to get me on campus. I’m about 6-foot-3.5,
240-pounds and I’m still running 4.5, so they feel like I can come in a
play immediately. I’m going to be an early enrollee as well, so after I
play in the Army game, I’ll be on campus.
“Of course, nothing is going to be given to me. I have to earn playing
time, but I feel pretty good about being able to make an impact early
at USC. I’m just looking forward to it all. Fight on, man.”
Hayes headed back
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