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Irish A-to-Z: Hunter Bivin

One of many heralded offensive line recruits to follow Harry Hiestand to South Bend, Hunter Bivin has bounced inside and out on Notre Dame’s offensive line, looking for a home. After serving as a back-up to talents like Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley and Mike McGlinchey at tackle, Bivin might have the inside track to earn his first starting experience at right guard.

After three years of hard work—and Steve Elmer deciding to cut short his college career after three seasons—Bivin looks like a true contender for a starting role. Now he needs to continue the work he put in this spring over the summer months, holding off a group of young talent to finalize the fifth starting job on a rebuilt offensive line.

 

HUNTER BIVIN
6’5.5″, 308 lbs.
Senior, No. 70, OL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Bivin was an elite prospect. 247 ranked him as one of the top offensive linemen—and overall prospects—in the country. He was an All-State performer in Kentucky, an Under Armour All-American, and played for the USA Team.

Bivin chose Notre Dame over offers from Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Michigan. He was a starter on a Kentucky state championship basketball team and also the state’s best shot putter.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Made his Irish debut in the second half of a lopsided victory over Rice. Played in five games, including on special teams against Florida State.

Junior Season (2015): Played in five games, serving as a backup at left tackle for Ronnie Stanley. Notched a season-high 25 snaps against UMass. Played 14 snaps in a convincing season-opening win over Texas.

 

WHAT WE PROJECTED LAST YEAR

The crystal ball appeared to be working last year when it came to Bivin’s playing time.

Bivin’s got everything you’d want—on paper—when it comes to an offensive line recruit. That said, it’s time for those qualities to translate to the field, something we haven’t seen yet.

It’s not necessarily fair to call Bivin an underachiever, especially when you want to have the type of depth Notre Dame has developed up front. It’s also worth noting that the two positions the Irish have worked Bivin have required some difficult playing time battles: Matt Hegarty just moved to Oregon and was inserted as the team’s starting center after he couldn’t beat out Nick Martin. And Ronnie Stanley will follow Zack Martin into the first round of the NFL Draft.

So let’s hold our breath a little bit longer.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

It’s clear that Bivin has some ability, with the staff entrusting a second-string tackle job to the Kentucky native the past two seasons. But it’s also clear that he’s not the caliber of tackle prospect that Alex Bars is, with Bivin making the slide inside, hopefully solidifying the starting lineup with the team’s five best offensive linemen.

Right now—especially after Colin McGovern struggled through injuries this spring—Bivin has a grasp on that job. But after another summer competing with Tristen Hoge and incoming freshman Tommy Kraemer, that might not be as clear.

Hiestand and Brian Kelly both prefer playing veterans—especially along the offensive line. We’ve seen guys like Mike Golic, Christian Lombard and Matt Hegarty keep talented young players on the sideline as trusted veterans. Bivin likely can do the same as a senior with a fifth-year available, though he’ll need to be the best player for the job.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I have Bivin penciled in at right guard for the start against Texas. Whether he stays in the lineup will likely be dictated by how quickly this offensive line gels. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that Kelly and Hiestand reshuffled their starting lineup, 2014’s offensive line swapped out mid-season after a disappointing start to the year. That’s a real scenario that could take place if this line doesn’t come together.

Being the fifth-best starter on an offensive line that features guys like Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson is no shame, especially when we’ve seen and heard such good things about first-time projected starters like Bars and Sam Mustipher. Bivin is a big body—he’s got prototype tackle size—and that’ll make the transition inside easier.

But I’m still waiting to see how he does as a mauler. There’s not much room for finesse at right guard, especially with the Irish wanting to establish a ground game early and often in 2016.

If Bivin brings that type of aggressiveness to the job and takes to guard over the summer, he’s a potential two-year starter. If not, he goes back to being a sixth man, capable of backing up essentially every spot on the offensive line.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal

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    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 20 Shaun Crawford, cornerback

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    Editor’s Note: When it was learned sophomore cornerback Donte Vaughn would be changing his number from 35 to 8, that led to an adjustment of the “99-to-2” schedule. While editing that spreadsheet, your resident mistake-maker accidentally eliminated a planned entry from the docket.

    A sincere thanks to @DFeliciano98 for pointing out the absence of No. 20 Shaun Crawford, a junior cornerback. Hopefully, delaying Crawford’s post had no adverse effect aside from momentarily compromising the countdown nature of organizing these posts via number.

    To be clear: Fall camp starts in about eight days. The season begins in 40.


    Listed Measurements: 5-foot-9, 175 pounds
    2017-18 year, eligibility: Junior with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season, though there is a reasonable argument to be made Crawford could appeal the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility should he want to pursue it once the assured three are fulfilled.
    Depth chart: If just looking at the depth chart, Crawford looks to be a backup cornerback, supporting either sophomore Julian Love at the field corner position or senior Nick Watkins over at the boundary. More accurately, Crawford will be the first choice at nickel back, a position not usually listed on the two-deep, though it is used as often as not in the modern era of college football. Naturally, this assessment should come with an if healthy disclaimer.
    Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect, the Under Armour All-American walked away from a commitment to Michigan shortly after receiving an offer from Notre Dame. The No. 7 cornerback in the class of 2015, per rivals.com, the No. 7 recruit in Ohio and the No. 82 in the country, Crawford also held offers from Miami, Ohio State and Florida State, among others.

    CAREER TO DATE
    Two unrelated injuries have stymied Crawford’s rise. In 2015, he quickly established himself as the likely option at nickel back — and if not there, playing time was assured in some variety or another — before a torn ACL ended his freshman season before it began.

    After an impressively quick recovery, Crawford partook in some of 2016’s spring action. By the time the season began, he had established himself as a starter, getting that nod against both Texas and Nevada. He made six tackles and picked off one pass before a season-ending Achilles injury halted what looked to be a promising campaign.

    QUOTE(S)
    Achilles injuries are notoriously difficult to come back from quickly. Thus, expectations for Crawford’s spring were always tempered, yet even before practices began, Irish coach Brian Kelly expressed optimism regarding Crawford’s rehab.

    “He’s jumping, has change of direction,” Kelly said in early March. “You’re going to see him extremely active in the spring. I don’t see him in a contact position at this time, but he won’t be cheated this spring. He’s really going to use spring as an opportunity for him to continue to grow as a football player.”

    The coaching and training staffs kept an eye on Crawford’s snap counts throughout the spring, but he still showed enough to encourage both Kelly and defensive coordinator Mike Elko. The week of the Blue-Gold Game, Kelly described Crawford as “if we had to play, h’s close to playing” after partaking in seven-on-seven drills.

    Elko went so far as to lump Crawford in with other possible situation-specific options at the rover position, the malleable linchpin of Elko’s defensive scheme he brought with him to Notre Dame.

    “A lot of that is dictated by who that guy is lined up [against] and what we’re trying to do,” Elko said. “We’re going to see a lot of really talented slot receivers. We’re going to have to match up and cover them well. There’s other names than the big linebacker/safety bodies to put at that position. … When Shaun gets healthy, I think he’ll do that some.”

    WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
    I think it’s only a matter of time before Crawford is a starter on this defense. I’m confident he’s already one of the team’s best 11 defenders, regardless of if he’s categorized as a starter or nickel back.

    “The battle to start on the outside opposite Cole Luke will be interesting. Devin Butler’s foot injury likely turns this into a three-horse race, with Nick Watkins having to rehabilitate a broken arm this summer and [junior cornerback-now-converted-to-safety] Nick Coleman still very raw. Crawford’s best spot might not be on the outside, though he could be a compelling boundary cornerback. But he might be too good to pull off the field, especially if Watkins isn’t able to ascend to the starting job.

    “I’m not going to get wrapped up in what Crawford is called. I think he’ll be a guy that stays on the football field for as many snaps as possible, knowing that his playmaking ability and nose for the football will make him invaluable in [former Irish defensive coordinator] Brian VanGorder’s scheme. I expect him to be one of the team’s leaders in filling up the stat sheet, an instantaneous upgrade from Matthias Farley at his best — when he had a quietly productive 2015 season in the slot.”

    2017 OUTLOOK
    Let’s start by staying healthy for a season. Crawford’s injuries are certainly not his fault, but until he can hold up to the grind of a collegiate season, this outlook hardly matters. He played both sides of the ball in high school with great success, so there is reason to believe his body is up for a physical workload — it just has not had an opportunity to show that yet.

    If healthy, Crawford’s quickness and pound-for-pound strength should make him nearly the ideal of a nickel back. Few slot receivers or running backs running routes can shake someone with Crawford’s skill set. In fact, Notre Dame’s offense shows just how far a team may have to go in order to evade a talented nickel back with the 6-foot-4 ½, 224-pound sophomore Chase Claypool currently projected for its slot receiver. Few opponents will be able to trot out such a towering weapon against Crawford.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    As talented as Crawford may be, his height, or lack thereof, puts a ceiling on his talents. He will never be a stellar field cornerback. Fortunately for the Irish, they have Love for that role. Crawford could serve at the boundary position, and he will have a chance to do that once Watkins runs out of eligibility in 2018.

    For that matter, if Crawford handles the nickel back duties with aplomb this fall, he may force Elko to find a way to keep him on the field for every snap. Moving Crawford ahead of Watkins on the boundary could serve that purpose.

    As for eligibility, Crawford suffered two season-ending injuries, one before playing a snap and the other in only the year’s second game. In similar instances, the NCAA has allowed a sixth year to complete four years of playing. Those decisions are not made until after a player’s fifth year, though, so it would come after the 2019 season if both Crawford and Notre Dame want to pursue such.


    2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
    Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
    No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
    No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
    No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
    No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
    No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
    No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
    No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
    No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
    No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
    No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
    No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
    No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
    No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
    No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
    No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
    No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
    No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
    No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
    No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
    No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
    No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
    No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
    No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
    No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
    No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
    No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
    No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
    No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
    No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
    No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
    No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
    No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
    No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
    No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
    No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
    No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
    No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
    No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
    No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
    No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
    No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
    No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
    No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
    No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
    No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
    No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
    No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
    No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
    No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
    No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
    No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
    No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
    No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
    No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
    No. 26: Ashton White, safety
    No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
    No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
    No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
    No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
    No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
    No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
    No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
    No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
    No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
    No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back
    No. 14: Devin Studstill, safety
    No. 13: Avery Davis, quarterback
    No. 13: Jordan Genmark Heath, safety
    No. 12: Ian Book, quarterback
    No. 12: Alohi Gilman, safety
    No. 11: Freddy Canteen, receiver
    No. 10: Chris Finke, receiver
    No. 9: Daelin Hayes, defensive end
    No. 8: Donte Vaughn, cornerback

    TRANSFERS
    No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
    No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
    No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

    INJURIES
    No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship

    RB Jahmir Smith makes Notre Dame’s 13th commitment, 2nd RB in class of 2018

    Rivals.com
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    Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long’s history indicates he prefers to have multiple options at running back. This allows him to keep the backs fresh in an up-tempo offense as well as rotate their individual skill sets while still having a full array of offensive weapons.

    If Long continues that trend at Notre Dame for multiple seasons, he already has the comfort of knowing two more options should join his well-stocked stable in a year.

    Jahmir Smith (Lee County High School; Sanford, N.C.) announced his commitment to Notre Dame with a Sunday evening Twitter post. He joins the long-committed Markese Stepp (Cathedral H.S.; Indianapolis) to create a running back duo in the class of 2018.

    At 6-foot, 199 pounds, Smith is not a runner looking to avoid contact. In that respect, he appears to resemble Stepp quite a bit.

    A rivals.com three-star recruit, Smith chose the Irish over a number of offers, including a couple notable ones from his homestate. Both North Carolina and North Carolina State pursued Smith, as did Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota. Rivals lists him as the No. 17 running back in the class and the No. 16 prospect in North Carolina.

    Smith’s Notre Dame recruitment did not take very long. He received an offer April 4 and visited only last Monday before making his decision.

    Apparently Stepp’s commitment more than a year ago did not dissuade Smith. Then again, if any position necessitates depth, it is running back. In addition to Long’s hopes of utilizing multiple ballcarriers, injuries plague the position. Recent years have especially shown the how much Irish need depth there, and a high school senior should see that and know a little position competition will not eliminate his chance at playing time.

    Smith’s commitment brings Notre Dame’s class of 2018 to 13 players. The Irish coaching staff most likely hopes to see it grow to at least 20, if not a few more than that, ideally with the additions of multiple cornerbacks and offensive linemen.

    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 8 Donte Vaughn, cornerback

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    Listed Measurements: 6-foot-2 ½, 209 pounds
    2017-18 year, eligibility: Sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
    Depth chart: Of the oft-praised quintet at cornerback, Vaughn may be the least-heralded to date. Yet, he will see plenty of action in nickel and dime packages, as well as be one play away at all times from taking over for senior Nick Watkins, the likely starter at boundary corner.
    Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect, Vaughn chose the Irish over big-time programs such as Auburn, LSU and Miami. Rivals.com rated Vaughn the No. 20 safety in the country and the No.7 player in Tennessee.

    CAREER TO DATE
    In part thanks to the dismissal of safety Max Redfield shortly before the season and the defensive backfield chaos caused by it, Vaughn saw plenty of action as a freshman, though largely in situational scenarios requiring nickel or dime packages, or perhaps option-specific attacks. Vaughn made seven tackles against Navy, his season-high, and started against both the Midshipmen and Army as well as Syracuse and North Carolin.

    2016: 10 games, four starts, 22 tackles, six pass breakups, one interception v. Duke.

    WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
    Even without the boneheaded arrests from the weekend, Vaughn was going to play. But with uncertainty surrounding Ashton White and Redfield’s dismissal, this likely moves Vaughn into the plans against Texas — a jump that not many saw coming, even with his impressive skill set.

    “Someone is going to come out of the woodwork and step into an important role in the secondary. We’re already counting on that from Devin Studstill. Put Vaughn into that category for me, a player I expect to finish the season as a key building block for 2017.”

    2017 OUTLOOK
    Notre Dame will rely on its veteran linebackers to compensate for a weakness along the defensive line’s interior. Similarly, the Irish will count on its cornerback depth to assist its inexperienced safeties. With that in mind, all five cornerbacks will be needed, including Vaughn.

    His length and high school playing experience make Vaughn an intriguing last-ditch possibility for a safety replenishment. Even if that does not come to be, those attributes make Vaughn nearly the ideal extra defensive back in passing-specific situations. He can cover both deep threats and physical route-runners.

    That is not to mention the looming possibility of the backup behind Watkins suddenly becoming the starter. An injury kept Watkins out in 2016. Presuming health following a missed season is an optimistic, though possible, tactic.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    Vaughn is in a tricky spot. Of the five cornerbacks, only Watkins has fewer than three seasons of eligibility remaining. While Notre Dame has not done well in cornerback recruiting of late, that will be a problem following Vaughn’s time. The lack of underclassmen pushing him further should not hold much of an effect. The three others at his position performing better to date will hold quite the effect.

    That is partly why the safety thought is mentioned. The Irish need help there. Vaughn might be able to provide it. If not, a solid career as a cornerback utility knife would fill a role needed in modern football.


    A year ago, Vaughn wore No. 35, but per Blue & Gold Illustrated’s Lou Somogyi, Vaughn will switch to No. 8 this season.


    2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
    Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
    No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
    No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
    No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
    No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
    No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
    No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
    No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
    No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
    No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
    No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
    No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
    No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
    No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
    No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
    No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
    No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
    No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
    No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
    No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
    No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
    No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
    No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
    No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
    No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
    No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
    No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
    No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
    No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
    No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
    No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
    No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
    No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
    No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
    No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
    No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
    No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
    No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
    No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
    No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
    No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
    No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
    No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
    No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
    No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
    No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
    No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
    No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
    No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
    No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
    No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
    No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
    No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
    No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
    No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
    No. 26: Ashton White, safety
    No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
    No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
    No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
    No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
    No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
    No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
    No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
    No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
    No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
    No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back
    No. 14: Devin Studstill, safety
    No. 13: Avery Davis, quarterback
    No. 13: Jordan Genmark Heath, safety
    No. 12: Ian Book, quarterback
    No. 12: Alohi Gilman, safety
    No. 11: Freddy Canteen, receiver
    No. 10: Chris Finke, receiver
    No. 9: Daelin Hayes, defensive end

    TRANSFERS
    No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
    No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
    No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

    INJURIES
    No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship

    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 9 Daelin Hayes, defensive end

    Rivals.com
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    Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3 ½, 255 pounds
    2017-18 year, eligibility: Sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
    Depth chart: Hayes will start as the weakside, otherwise known as the boundary or drop, defensive end. Sophomores Julian Okwara and Ade Ogundeji back up Hayes, but neither has shown any likelihood of challenging him for playing time.
    Recruiting: A rivals.com five-star prospect, Hayes received interest from nearly every big-time program in the country despite having shoulder injuries cut short two of his prep seasons. The U.S. Army All-American chose the Irish over Ohio State, Michigan and Alabama. (Note: Due to one of those shoulder injuries, Hayes did not play in the all-star game in San Antonio.) The No. 7 outside linebacker in the country, per rivals, and the No. 31 player overall, Hayes enrolled early at Notre Dame.

    CAREER TO DATE
    Hayes played in all 12 games last season, though he did not establish himself as the pass-rush threat some hoped he might from the outset. He did flash those abilities in this spring’s Blue-Gold Game, though those sacks obviously did not involve bringing the red-jerseyed quarterback to the ground.

    2016: 12 games, 11 tackles, one forced fumble vs. North Carolina State.
    2017 Blue-Gold Game: Seven tackles, four tackles for loss including three sacks.

    QUOTE(S)
    The injuries in high school robbed Hayes of the raw time needed to develop as a football player. This spring, many of his reps were the first of their kind, something Irish coach Brian Kelly noted.

    “The athleticism is what obviously stands out,” Kelly said in late March. “[Hayes] is extremely athletic, he’s fit physically, 250 pounds and very strong.

    “It’s the football knowledge. Learning the techniques at the position in which he plays is really the piece. It’s just learning right now for him. This is the time do it, in spring ball. … We have to be patient with him. He’s an explosive athlete, there’s going to be some mistakes along the way and I’m okay with that as long as he’s learning. Here’s the great thing about it: he cares a lot and he wants to get better. So we’re going to live with some of the mistakes as long as he’s the same kid every day, which he is, and he cares deeply about wanting to get better.”

    At the end of spring practice, Hayes had shown just how much better he had gotten.

    “I think it’s pretty clear that Daelin Hayes is going to be around the football and be a disruptive player for us,” Kelly said following the Blue-Gold Game.

    IN HIS OWN WORDS
    His three “sacks” in the Blue-Gold Game brought Hayes much attention, largely deserved. He quickly deflected that credit.

    “I’m not the same athlete that I was when I first came in, not by any means,” he said. “The biggest thing for me when I came in, I was off the injury, I was like 250 [pounds], 18 percent body fat. Now I’m at 10 [percent body fat], 250 [pounds], the same weight.

    “[Strength coordinator Matt] Balis is definitely working, not only for me, but for everybody in the program. … Buying into that offseason program is going to be huge for our team.”

    Even before the practice exhibition, Hayes had seen the benefits of his gained fitness.

    “That comes when you retool your body,” he said. “I remember my first time watching film, I look quicker, [have] more twitch than I did. I was definitely — it’s hard to put it into words, but to actually be able to go back and look at it and see how it affected the game was huge.”

    WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
    I see a designated pass rusher season coming on for Hayes, with the hopes that it’ll allow him to specialize at something, and potentially stay healthy in a restricted role. Some have mentioned Kolin Hill’s freshman campaign as a [comparison]. I think that’s setting the bar too low.

    “Instead, look at Prince Shembo’s rookie campaign. Even as a tweaner, Shembo found the field in pass rush situations, putting together a nice stat line with five TFLs and 4.5 sacks as a freshman.

    “Again, the hope is Hayes is a quick learner, because he’s played less than a full season of football at the high school level. So while he may have been a workout warrior and dominated the camp circuit on his way to a 5-star grade, that’s just not a lot of experience.

    “The good news? Notre Dame’s not asking him to play quarterback or free safety. They need him to chase down quarterbacks — a skill [former Irish defensive line coach] Keith Gilmore should be able to unearth from Hayes rather quickly.

    “Hayes should play every week this season if he can stay on the field. If he does that, I’ll say he matches Shembo’s freshman season.”

    2017 OUTLOOK
    While Keith was off a bit about Hayes’ output last season, he nailed the most important part of the prognostication as it regards Hayes’ future. The then-freshman did stay healthy and, thus, did play every week of the season.

    For that matter, Keith was only off a bit about Hayes matching Shembo’s freshman season. In 2010, Prince Shembo recorded 15 tackles, with five for loss including 4.5 sacks and forced one fumble. Hayes essentially matched those gross numbers, the tackles just did not come behind the line of scrimmage.

    Obviously, that is a big difference, and one Notre Dame will be desperate to see change in 2017. Hayes represents defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s best chance at a true pass rush. He is, perhaps, Elko’s only chance at a true pass rush.

    Continuing to use Shembo’s on-field career arc as a template, he started eight games in 2011, saw action in 12 games and recorded 31 tackles. His numbers behind the line of scrimmage dipped — illustrating how much those may hinge on inconsistent variables — to 3.5 tackles for loss with two sacks.

    Hayes should start 13 games this season, and in doing so easily notch 30-plus tackles. His raw speed alone could get him close to that number. Elko, defensive line coach Mike Elston and Kelly will all very much hope for more than two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. If healthy, Hayes should exceed those numbers, and after a healthy freshman season, there is no longer reason to readily presume injury.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    Hayes received national praise following the Blue-Gold Game. Some of that was the echo chamber of a content-starved industry in the springtime. Some of that was Hayes playing well, proving rivals.com may have been right as the only recruiting service to grant Hayes a fifth star.

    If that national praise is sustained in 2017, look for some to speculate about him heading to the NFL after 2018. Fast, agile, athletic defensive ends are a prized commodity for a reason.

    Whether that happens or not, Hayes will likely start on the end for the Irish for the rest of his career as long as he is healthy. A move to outside linebacker could be feasible, except for the simple fact Notre Dame lacks dynamic defensive linemen more than it does productive linebackers. Even with a shallow linebacker corps likely in the coming years, it looks stockpiled compared to the defensive line.


    2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
    Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
    No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
    No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
    No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
    No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
    No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
    No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
    No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
    No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
    No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
    No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
    No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
    No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
    No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
    No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
    No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
    No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
    No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
    No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
    No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
    No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
    No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
    No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
    No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
    No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
    No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
    No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
    No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
    No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
    No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
    No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
    No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
    No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
    No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
    No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
    No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
    No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
    No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
    No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
    No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
    No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
    No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
    No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
    No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
    No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
    No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
    No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
    No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
    No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
    No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
    No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
    No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
    No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
    No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
    No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
    No. 26: Ashton White, safety
    No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
    No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
    No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
    No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
    No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
    No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
    No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
    No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
    No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
    No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back
    No. 14: Devin Studstill, safety
    No. 13: Avery Davis, quarterback
    No. 13: Jordan Genmark Heath, safety
    No. 12: Ian Book, quarterback
    No. 12: Alohi Gilman, safety
    No. 11: Freddy Canteen, receiver
    No. 10: Chris Finke, receiver

    TRANSFERS
    No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
    No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
    No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

    INJURIES
    No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship