Daelin Hayes: Notre Dame Football’s Unrivaled Leader in 2020

It seems like yesterday, Daelin Hayes produced one of the most memorable commitment videos in Notre Dame history, but it is hard to believe the was nearly five years ago. (Side note: Rocco Spindler’s commitment video on Saturday might be even more memorable). Since, Hayes has become a leader on and off the field for the University of Notre Dame. After an injury-shortened season in 2019, the fifth-year senior is poised to have a career-defining season in South Bend and catapult himself onto NFL Draft boards.

December 10th, 2015 Hayes Commits to Irish

The Ann Arbor football star commits to Notre Dame. Hayes joined a growing list of players from the state of Michigan to choose the Irish, a list that includes Jerome Bettis. Hayes grew up in the shadow of Michigan Stadium, but he committed to the University of Notre Dame and will have one last shot at a national championship this fall.

Unforgettable Commitment Video. Commitment announcements have significantly changed from when Brian Kelly arrived in South Bend. Social media has paved the way for high school athletes to become famous before they even play a snap. College football fanatics now follow recruits on social media and have more to keep an eye on than just fall Saturdays.

In his commitment tape, Hayes is working out on the field and tasked with a mission between his final three schools of Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. Obviously, fans all know how the mission ends, but the video was fantastic. 

Notre Dame Legacy

Four-Star Recruit arriving in South Bend. According to 247 Sports, Daelin Hayes was the #133 overall player and #10 outside linebacker in the country. The Michigan native has had a respectable career in South Bend, but fans hope he can take the next step in 2020 and cement his Notre Dame legacy.

YearGames PlayedTacklesSacksForced Fumbles
Daelin Hayes Career Statistics

Injury set back Hayes in 2019. Daelin Hayes played in the first four games last year, but his season was cut short with a shoulder injury that he suffered in the 4th matchup against the Virginia Cavaliers. Since the Notre Dame Senior did not surpass four games, he can participate in a fifth year. Many expect Daelin Hayes to have the most productive year of his career in 2020.

Last season, Daelin Hayes contributed to a backup role behind defensive ends Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareen. By returning to South Bend, Hayes may see the most playing time of his football career.


Potential Captain this fall. Last year, Head Coach Brian Kelly awarded the title of captain to seven worthy players. There is no set number of captains for each season. It is something that is earned throughout a player’s career. As the 2020 football season approaches, look for the captains to be announced soon.

Daelin Hayes has been all over the Notre Dame Football social media pages during summer camps, and he is stepping up as a leader. Do not be surprised to see his name listed as a captain before kick-off against the Duke Blue Devils.

Leading Notre Dame through the 2020 Season. Daelin Hayes will have his work cut out for him this fall, perhaps more than any other player in recent memory. If a season is to be played in 2020, it will not be without great challenges on and off the field. Notre Dame players have done a tremendous job of isolating throughout the Summer, but it will be crucial to stay focused throughout the year.

The program will likely be playing in front of small crowds or no fans at all. Leaders like Hayes will be tasked with keeping the team motivated when they do not have the support of the crowd behind them or even the inspiration of the crowds “booing” them on the road. 

Can Hayes have his best year?

Projected Starter at Defensive End? Daelin Hayes and Adetokunbo Ogundeji are the projected starters at defensive end on Clark Lea’s Defense. However, expect the talented underclassmen of Isaiah Foskey and Justin Ademilola to be strong backups in Clark Lea’s defensive line rotation. Several years back, the defensive line was a weakness for Notre Dame’s recruiting and production on the field.

But, thanks to Defensive Line Coach Mike Elston the Irish have solidified the defensive front for years to come.

Hayes and the NFL Draft. A 2020 season will undoubtedly help Daelin Hayes with more tape for the upcoming NFL Draft. The two players ahead of him last year on the depth chart were both selected in the draft. Julian Okwara was drafted 67th overall in the 3rd round by the Detroit Lions. While Khalid Kareem went 147th in the 5th round to the Cincinnati Bengals.

If Hayes can finally get the production that many anticipate in 2020, he will have a great shot at being selected in next year’s NFL Draft. However, nothing is for certain, and the young underclassmen behind him are pushing for a starting position.

Final Thoughts 

Will there be a season in 2020. I still believe that it is doubtful that a full season will be completed. With the talks of the Coaches Poll, conference-only scheduling, and overall social media excitement, it sounded like all the major power-five programs wanted to this a chance. However, rumors circulated Sunday night that they are now rethinking their original stances.

Everyone would love for there to be college football and sports in general, but only time will tell if a season is realistic.

Daelin Hayes will be a key part of the program’s success. If the college football season begins, leaders such as Daelin Hayes, Ian Book, Robert Hainsey, and others will be vital to a productive season. Teams that can keep players healthy on and off the field will certainly be primed for more success.

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