Hayes headed back

Ann Arbor (Mich.) Skyline linebacker Daelin Hayes is going back to Cali, at least for an extended weekend stay to check in with USC.

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 championships.

“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 miles away.

“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 work out.

“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.”

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