Monday’s college football: Irish have big plans for Hayes

LaMond Pope
Chicago Tribune

South Bend, Ind. — Daelin Hayes raced around from the left side and nearly got to quarterback Brandon Wimbush on the first play of Sunday’s scrimmage.

Hayes, a sophomore defensive end, made a habit of getting into the backfield during Notre Dame’s spring camp.

He’s hoping to carry it over to this fall.

“You try to move on and get better each and every day,” Hayes said. “It was a great spring as far as developing, it was a great summer and growing into a great camp right now. It’s growing each and every day with the mindset to get better than you were yesterday. That’s been huge for me.”

The 6-foot-4, 258-pound Hayes (Ann Arbor Skyline) was one of Notre Dame’s spring standouts. To cap it, he was credited with seven tackles and three sacks in the Blue-Gold game.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he believes Hayes has the drive to continue that growth.

“He’s very intentional in what he does,” Kelly said.

“When he walks into our building, he counts the footsteps to the training room. He’s that intentional in terms of everything that he does, to his workouts, to what he eats, to his film sessions. That’s going to pay off.

“He never comes to anything football-related unprepared. You’ll never find him not sitting in the front row, asking questions, staying late, wanting to be the best. The great players that I’ve always been around possess that trait, and he’s got that trait.”

Hayes, from Belleville, had 11 tackles and forced one fumble as a reserve last year. The coaching staff is eager to see how he performs in an expanded role.

“Daelin hasn’t played a lot of football, so each time he goes out there and practices he gets more and more confident with himself and what we’re asking him to do,” defensive coordinator Mike Elko said.

Hayes said the arrival of Elko, who was at Wake Forest last season, already has aided his development.

“I feel like I can play very fast and fluid in the scheme and it really compliments my abilities,” Hayes said. “In that regard, Coach Elko has helped me a lot in playing with confidence and playing fast and understanding the defense.”

Hayes also praised assistant Mike Elston, who is back coaching the defensive line after spending two seasons overseeing the linebackers. Elston coached Notre Dame’s defensive line from 2010-14.

“(Elston) challenged me to be great in every facet of my game,” Hayes said. “That level of expectation and that standard that he holds me to has been huge.”

Hayes is excited for the opportunity to put it all together.

“It’s putting it on the big scale,” Hayes said. “Just being that dominant force throughout the entire season is a goal of mine.”

UM’s Gary cited

The Big Ten East figures to be stacked this season, with Ohio State (No. 2), Penn State (No. 6) and Michigan (No. 11) all in the top 11 of Monday’s Associated Press preseason poll.

The Wolverines have their work cut out if they’re going to win their first Big Ten title since 2004.

In sophomore Rashan Gary, Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated believes the Wolverines have a player who can help them end that drought.

The talented defensive end is one of 12 players in the country who Staples says can transform their teams from contenders to champions. Also making the list is Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson, a redshirt freshman and former Saline standout.

Extra points

Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith is expected to miss the start of the season after injuring his collarbone.

... Sophomore Tyler Huntley will be Utah’s starting quarterback after beating out returning starter Troy Williams.

... Kentucky coach Mark Stoops says wide receiver Dorian Baker could miss the 2017 season after fracturing his left ankle during Saturday’s scrimmage.

... Louisiana State officially has a new live tiger mascot, Mike VII, on its campus.

He replaces a tiger that died in October following months of treatment for cancer.