Notre Dame got a bit of bad news on Sunday when Brian Kelly announced that senior defensive end Daelin Hayes suffered a torn labrum and was out for the rest of the season. It turns out that the 2019 season’s loss is the 2020 season’s gain. On Monday Hayes announced that he would indeed return for a 5th year in 2020 instead of testing his luck in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Hayes, who was Notre Dame’s most disruptive defensive end through the first three games of the season, announced his intentions to return on Instagram.
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Before I stepped foot on a field field, before any ball was snapped, before any win or loss, I made a promise… A promise to use this game, this platform to glorify Your name regardless of outcome. To be a servant to both You and your word, my teammates, and overall community. And to fully embrace and attack each day with a heart of gratitude understanding that it was a blessing and a privilege to play this game. With these promises in mind, not only did I find a greater love for the game, but a greater love for the grind. Embracing the journey, the process, and maximizing each step along the way has brought me joy in unimaginable ways. It is in these lessons that I have found peace within my current circumstance. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to suit up for this University with the greatest brotherhood I’ve ever known. I am even more blessed to have been granted an opportunity to return next year for my fifth year. God willing, I promise to give everything I have in order to serve both my Brothers on this team and The University of Notre Dame ☘️
Hayes can return in 2020 because the injury occurred early enough in the year that Hayes only played in three games. That allows him to take a medical redshirt this year and come back in 2020.
While it would have been ideal to have Hayes in the defensive end rotation for the rest of the season, having Hayes back in 2020 is a huge boost for next year’s defense. Notre Dame loses both Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem after this year. That’s a lot of firepower off the edge to lose, but getting Hayes back is almost like getting a starter back next season.
Notre Dame’s defensive line for 2020 now projects to look something like this in the two-deep:
- SDE: Ade Ogundeji, Justin Ademilola
- NT: Kurt Hinish, Jacob Lacey
- DT: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Jayson Ademilola
- DROP: Daelin Hayes, Ovie Oghoufo
For now, I haven’t listed Jamir Jones here because I can’t imagine him still being able to preserve a year of eligibility this year to come back in 2020. That was the original plan, but with Hayes on the shelf, look for Jones to play the rest of the season. We saw much more of Jones on Saturday against Virginia than we have at any point in his career and he was massively effective.
That two-deep also doesn’t account for freshmen Isaiah Foskey at Nana Osafo-Mensah who could force their way into the two-deep by next year. That is some pretty good depth. Considering Notre Dame should improve on the interior by bringing everyone back, the Irish defense line for 2020 figures to once again be a deep and talented unit.
For Hayes, returning in 2020 could oddly turn into a positive for him. We finally saw the Julian Okwara that is projected to be a first-round pick on Saturday and Hayes would have continued to play in his shadow. Even if Hayes continued to play at the level we saw in the first three games, it would have been tough to work his way up NFL Draft boards.
In 2020 though, Hayes will be an unquestioned starter and potentially a captain. He could end up improving his draft stock considerably with an entire season as a full-time starter on film.
For the remainder of 2019, Notre Dame should be okay at defensive end assuming they can remain relatively healthy at the position the rest of the way. Against Virginia, the entire defensive end rotation took turns making plays in the Cavalier backfield. Notre Dame has some serious dudes and some serious depth at defensive end. (It still seems so crazy to me to write that after how much Notre Dame struggled on the edge for so long).