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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 93 Jay Hayes, defensive end

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3 ½, 281 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Senior with two remaining seasons of eligibility including 2017
Depth chart: Hayes and classmate Andrew Trumbetti split first-team reps at the strongside defensive end position throughout spring. By the end, it seemed Hayes had the edge with sophomore Khalid Kareem behind the two. For thoroughness’s sake, it should be noted Trumbetti is entering his final season of eligibility.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star, rivals.com ranked Hayes as the No. 14 defensive tackle in his class.

CAREER TO DATE
Hayes was set to preserve a year of eligibility in 2014 before injuries sidelined former Notre Dame defensive linemen Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day late in the season. With no other viable options along the defensive front, the Irish coaches plugged in Hayes for the final three contests. He collected two tackles and a sprained ankle.

To compensate for that action, Hayes spent his sophomore season on the sideline, setting him back on a prototypical five-year schedule.

Last season, he managed 10 tackles in 10 games with half a tackle for loss.

QUOTE(S)
One has to think part of the lack of hype around Hayes this spring was because so much was spent on sophomore weakside defensive end Daelin Hayes (no relation). Subconsciously, Jay Hayes fell down the list of those to discuss. Nonetheless, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly did offer one pertinent and revealing quote regarding Hayes, even if it was also quite short.

“[We] would like to see him on the edge,” Kelly said after just one practice.

Even at 281 pounds, the Irish coaches do not consider Hayes a candidate for defensive tackle because they see such value from him on the outside. Why the positive spin rather than a pessimistic view? Simply put, that is what Kelly said. He did not say, “We would rather not move him inside.”

WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“When Notre Dame lines up on defense against Texas, expect to see Hayes opposite Isaac Rochell at defensive end. Notre Dame’s front four will be among the largest in the country if that happens—two 290-pound defensive ends and two 300-plus pounders in the trenches.

“That said, if Hayes is going to stick at end, he might spend the summer slimming down. Shedding 10 pounds and playing closer to 275 might give him an extra half-step, something that could come in handy when coming off the edge.

“But even without a weight loss, Hayes is going to have a productive season. If healthy, I’ve got him penciled in for double-digit starts, approaching 10 TFLs, and the second most tackles on the defensive line.

2017 OUTLOOK
Hayes competing with Trumbetti throughout spring bodes well for the former. At the worst, the two split reps and each held his own in the chase for the starting strongside spot. At the best, Hayes outdid Trumbetti a bit more than was seen in open practices.

Hayes has always had a size advantage over Trumbetti, but Trumbetti’s quickness has been a bigger difference. In 2017, the question will be how Hayes makes up for that.

Last season, he missed Keith’s starting projection by double digits and the tackles mark by 35. With that in mind, expecting anything close to those figures a year later seems a big leap. Keith was discussing a relatively-complete unknown. At this point, what is known is something of a letdown.

But by no means has Hayes reached his ceiling. That is part of the frustration. One cannot know where Hayes’ ceiling might be based on what he showed his junior year.

DOWN THE ROAD
If Hayes can give an idea of his potential this season, then the Irish coaches will have good reason to invite him back for a fifth year. His size alone makes that a possibility, and notable productivity would certainly increase those odds.

Obviously, Hayes could transfer elsewhere if he does not receive that invite for the 2018 season. Presuming he graduates, Hayes could play immediately thanks to the NCAA’s stance on graduate transfers.

If he wants to play at the next level, Hayes might need to triple his career tackles this year. (12 x 3 = 36) Otherwise, he will be considered another product of New York high school football falling well short of expectations.


2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2
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 (theoretically): Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 94 (theoretically): Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle

Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 94 (theoretically) Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle

Rivals.com
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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-2, 280 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Freshman yet to enroll
Depth chart: Copy-and-pasting this section from the Darnell Ewell entry would not be inaccurate. Hinish will presumably join his classmate in competing to back up junior Jerry Tillery. It would be a surprise to see both freshmen surpass senior Daniel Cage and junior Brandon Tiassum in that positional battle.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star out of Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Hinish was one of the core recruits Irish coach Brian Kelly credited with holding the class of 2017 together during the disappointing 4-8 season and subsequent assistant coaching turnover.

QUOTE(S)
In addition to praising Hinish’s communication skills among his peers, Kelly pointed to the lineman’s overall demeanor as a key to his future, possibly just as much as his physical talents, when Kelly discussed the recruits on National Signing Day.

“We really wanted that tough-guy mentality on our defensive line,” Kelly said. “Kurt brought that to us right away. Not only did he make plays, but he had a toughness to him. We wanted to upgrade that toughness across the board.

“We thought we had some big, athletic guys. We wanted that physical and mental toughness that Kurt brought to his game.”

WHAT WE SAID WHEN HINISH’S NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT ARRIVED
Hinish will provide immediate depth and long-term potential on the defensive front, and that cannot be overrated. His was a recruitment low on drama, and thus often low on rave reviews. Those two should not depend on each as often as they do.

2017 OUTLOOK
Hinish will likely preserve a year of eligibility in 2017. Injuries could certainly force him into action, but all signs indicate he will not be needed on the defensive front this season. The talk of a lack of depth on the interior is not necessarily referencing a lack of bodies, but rather a lack of proven talents. The former does not need yet another name in the mix, and as an incoming freshman, it will be difficult for Hinish to establish himself as a proven talent.

DOWN THE ROAD
That year on the sidelines can allow Hinish to focus on getting ready for spring practice of 2018, when opportunity will certainly be there for him. As has often been seen, the biggest hurdle for a sophomore in that position is sometimes remaining healthy. (See: Dew-Treadway, Micah) If Hinish has that luxury, up to three defensive tackle departures will give him a chance to go about establishing himself as that proven talent.

It is not outlandish to see that being four defensive tackle departures, including two starters, given the possibility of junior Jerry Tillery leaving a year early to head to the NFL.


As discussed in the Darnell Ewell entry, … aside from the five early enrollees, the numbers are not yet known for the Irish freshmen class. That is one of the admitted drawbacks to organizing this summer-long series numerically. But a little bit of educated guessing can garner estimates for those numbers, and those estimates can allow the series to proceed without pause.

After all, the real purpose is to take a look at each player. The order, quite frankly, doesn’t matter. It is nothing more than a gimmick, be it done alphabetically, numerically or by the magic number crafted by adding the single integers of each player’s birthday. (For example, Derek Jeter’s June 26 birthday would equal 0 + 6 + 2 + 6 = 14.)

How are those estimates crafted? The first step is to take a look at certain NCAA rules. That is less helpful on defense than it is on offense. The NCAA places no stipulations on defensive integers. That is how Notre Dame ends up with one defensive end named Hayes wearing No. 93 (senior, Jay) and one defensive end named Hayes wearing No. 9 (sophomore, Daelin). Yet, only so many numbers are available. The Irish are likely to avoid any unnecessary doublings so as to lessen the chances of somehow ending up with two players wearing the same number defending, hmmm, a field goal, by chance. Obviously, such a noticeable infraction would inevitably draw a flag.

For this exercise, at least, the estimates are garnered under that presumption.

Kurt Hinish is probably not going to wear No. 94, but it is possible. It certainly seems more likely than No. 8 or No. 31, both of which are unclaimed on the Notre Dame roster. Only time will tell. For today, let’s just go with No. 94.


2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2
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 (theoretically): Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle

Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 95 (theoretically) Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle

Rivals.com
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Aside from the five early enrollees, the numbers are not yet known for the Irish freshmen class. That is one of the admitted drawbacks to organizing this summer-long series numerically. But a little bit of educated guessing can garner estimates for those numbers, and those estimates can allow the series to proceed without pause.

After all, the real purpose is to take a look at each player. The order, quite frankly, doesn’t matter. It is nothing more than a gimmick, be it done alphabetically, numerically or by the magic number crafted by adding the single integers of each player’s birthday. (For example, Derek Jeter’s June 26 birthday would equal 0 + 6 + 2 + 6 = 14.)

How are those estimates crafted? The first step is to take a look at certain NCAA rules. That is less helpful on defense than it is on offense. The NCAA places no stipulations on defensive integers. That is how Notre Dame ends up with one defensive end named Hayes wearing No. 93 (senior, Jay) and one defensive end named Hayes wearing No. 9 (sophomore, Daelin). Yet, only so many numbers are available. The Irish are likely to avoid any unnecessary doublings so as to lessen the chances of somehow ending up with two players wearing the same number defending, hmmm, a field goal, by chance. Obviously, such a noticeable infraction would inevitably draw a flag.

For this exercise, at least, the estimates are garnered under that presumption.

Darnell Ewell is probably not going to wear No. 95, but it is possible. It certainly seems more likely than No. 11 or No. 16, both of which are unclaimed on the Notre Dame roster. Only time will tell. For today, let’s just go with No. 95.

DARNELL EWELL
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-4, 280 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Freshman yet to enroll
Depth chart: Ewell will enter a competition among a number of defensive tackles looking to back up junior Jerry Tillery. That grouping most notably includes senior Daniel Cage and junior Brandon Tiassum.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star out of Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, Va., Ewell was considered the No. 6 player in the state and No. 9 at his position by rivals.com.

QUOTE(S)
Irish coach Brian Kelly certainly left the door open for Ewell to earn playing time this season when Kelly discussed the recruits on National Signing Day.

“I will say this, we’ve upgraded from a defensive line position with a guy like Darnell Ewell, 6’4”, over 300 pounds,” Kelly said. “… He’s in great shape physically, his mental preparation. I love the way he prepares in everything.

“He has a single-minded purpose in everything that he does. He takes care of himself. He’s very committed. He visited Ohio State and Notre Dame, and knew exactly where he wanted to go to school. There wasn’t much question. I love the way he handles himself on a day-to-day basis.

“He’s a guy that is prepared and wants to play immediately. We’re not going to tell him anything different. Come over here and compete right away. He’s got the physical traits and he’s got the mindset. That’s what we really like about Darnell.”

WHAT WE SAID WHEN EWELL’S NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT ARRIVED
Don’t expect Ewell to preserve a year of eligibility in 2017, barring injury. With his size and quickness, new defensive coordinator Mike Elko will likely want to get Ewell into the middle of the line as quickly as possible.”

2017 OUTLOOK
Nothing about Notre Dame’s spring practice diminished the odds of Ewell earning playing time in his freshman campaign. There is still plenty of opportunity at defensive tackle, partly due to junior Elijah Taylor suffering a springtime injury, and partly due to Cage not yet appearing to be entirely full-go after suffering a concussion last season.

That is not to say Ewell will start. He won’t, at least not on day one, but if he takes to the weight room and grasps the basics of Elko’s scheme, Ewell could see his snaps increase as the season moves along.

Tillery logged 12 tackles in 12 games, including two tackles for loss, in his freshman season of 2015. If Ewell could exceed those figures, that would be a good start. Certainly, Elko and Kelly would be even happier if Ewell could approach 20 tackles. That may seem a low number, but consider that in 2016, only 14 Irish defenders made more than 20 tackles, including four defensive linemen. If Ewell were to reach that (arbitrary) threshold, it would be as much a sign of him earning playing time as it would be of him excelling in that playing time.

DOWN THE ROAD
Ewell projects as Notre Dame’s defensive tackle of the future. That probably will not be 2017, but with Cage departing following the season—probably along with seniors Pete Mokwuah and Jonathan Bonner even though each would have one more year of eligibility (Bonner is more likely to stick around than Mokwuah)—Ewell will have the chance to earn a frontline role in the spring of 2018.


2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2
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

Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 96 Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3 ½, 326 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Senior with two years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season
Depth chart: Mokwuah remains a ways down the depth chart, behind at least senior Jonathan Bonner and junior Micah Dew-Treadway. If junior Elijah Taylor returns from a LisFranc fracture without complication, he will also presumably be ahead of Mokwuah when it comes to playing time.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star, Mokwuah committed to Notre Dame late in the recruiting cycle as part of an Irish attempt, led by then-newly-hired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, to shore up the interior of Notre Dame’s defensive line in that class. Mokwuah had previously been committed to Rutgers.

CAREER TO DATE
Mokwuah has totaled one tackle in six career games, notching a takedown against Miami last season. He preserved a year of eligibility his freshman season, appeared in two games in 2015 (Texas, Massachusetts) and four last year.

QUOTE(S)
Any mention of Mokwuah has come while discussing contingency plans. When former Irish defensive lineman Tony Springmann suffered a career-ending injury before the 2014 season, Mokwuah’s was one of the names Irish coach Brian Kelly cited when figuring out how to overcome the loss of the senior Springmann.

“We have, if you count [former Notre Dame lineman Jarron] Jones, Mokwuah and [senior Daniel] Cage, three guys that are over 300 pounds,” Kelly said. “In my conversations with [former Irish strength and conditioning coach Paul] Longo and particular with Cage and Mokwuah, their volume is ahead of any of the freshmen that we have had at that position since we have come here.

“Their ability to go in and take reps immediately because they are so strong, as well. Both of them physically are able to compete right away. We’ll have to see what their football ability brings, but from a work volume standpoint and from a strength standpoint, and obviously their size, we feel pretty good at that position right now.”

Two years later, toward the end of last season, Kelly was asked about the defensive line’s future once Jarron Jones graduated. Having already acknowledged Cage, Kelly once again turned to Mokwuah.

“We’ve got some guys that are becoming much more seasoned,” Kelly said. “Pete Mokwuah, [junior] Brandon Tiassum, those guys in particular have done a nice job, have come along to the point where we believe that their time is really close.”

WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO*
Finding a niche in 2016 would be a great step forward for Mokwuah. Ultimately, that could be five or ten snaps a game, allowing Jones and Cage to stay fresh. But it could be just being ready to be the ‘Next Man In,’ knowing that the Irish defense desperately needs to establish some type of productive rotation to allow their young talent a chance to flourish at the point of attack.

“Three seasons into his time in South Bend, Mokwuah should be ready to compete physically. It’s also his second year working with Keith Gilmore. But nose guard is a difficult depth chart to crack, and Mokwuah’s chances of seeing the field might hinge on the rotation established to take the load off of Jerry Tillery at three-technique.”

2017 OUTLOOK
Mokwuah may have missed his chance to make an impact on Notre Dame’s defensive front. His size remains tantalizing, but that alone will not raise Mokwuah from fourth on the depth chart to worthwhile playing time. For that matter, incoming freshmen Darnell Ewell, Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa will fit somewhere in the mix. (Tagovailoa-Amosa is the most likely to have direct competition with this piece’s subject.) They might not pass Mokwuah, but their mere presence will take away from his opportunities to impress in practice.

Despite Kelly’s repeated mentions of Mokwauh’s progress and physical presence, the ability to hold the point of attack has not been seen much on the field. The fact that Kelly did not cite Mokwuah this spring only underscores the unlikelihood of the senior making an impact in 2017.

DOWN THE ROAD
The Irish will already struggle to sign more than 20 recruits in the class of 2018—not because the prospects won’t sign, but because Notre Dame will not have the scholarships to offer. Though he will have a fifth year of eligibility, it is highly unlikely the Irish coaching staff invites Mokwuah back for the 2018 season. If he graduates, he obviously could then transfer to another school and play from the outset thanks to the NCAA’s stance on graduate transfers.


*By no means is the “What Keith Arnold projected a year ago” section intended to showcase what Keith did or did not get right. It is intended to provide further context of how a player has performed compared to reasonable expectations.

2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle

Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle

Rivals.com
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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-4, 299 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Junior with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season
Depth chart: Dew-Treadway moved up the spring depth chart when junior Elijah Taylor suffered a LisFranc fracture. If Taylor returns fully healthy this fall, he will likely supplant Dew-Treadway as the primary backup behind senior Jonathan Bonner. LisFranc injuries are notoriously fickle, though—logically such should be expected when a foot is counted on to support 300 pounds. If Taylor is at all limited, Dew-Treadway should have the chance to log some competitive snaps. He will be in a mix with senior Pete Mokwuah and junior Brandon Tiassum for that role.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star, Dew-Treadway’s size alone made him a notable recruit. If his size could be developed with time in a college weight room, the Irish coaches may have found a contributing piece. That time in a college weight room began a semester early with Dew-Treadway enrolling in the spring of 2015.

CAREER TO DATE
Dew-Treadway has not appeared in a game for Notre Dame. He preserved a year of eligibility his freshman season, certainly understandable considering the 2015 Irish defensive line featured Sheldon Day, Romeo Okwara and Isaac Rochell, in addition to the litany of usual suspects.

Dew-Treadway suffered a foot fracture before the 2016 season.

QUOTE(S)
When Taylor went down early in spring, Irish coach Brian Kelly needed to figure out who would fill in on the defensive interior if for no other reason than to successfully field the remaining practices. Obviously, those results could indicate a pattern for the fall.

Kelly’s first instinct was Dew-Treadway.

“Micah Dew-Treadway has had a really good offseason for us,” Kelly said. “Changed his body, has been doing a really good job in all facets. In the class room, weight room and he’s somebody that had been ascending anyway prior to the injury. … Micah has shown some real promise over the past couple months.”

WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO*
Brian Kelly’s mid-June comments about Jarron Jones might actually help Dew-Treadway see the field. Because if the optimum amount of snaps for Jones is 35, that means there’s about 20 more for some lineman not named Daniel Cage or Jerry Tillery, and it’s anybody’s guess who will fill those snaps.

“I tend to think those snaps could go to Jon Bonner first. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Dew-Treadway finds his way into those second-team developmental snaps this year, moving ahead of a veteran like Peter Mokwuah or converted offensive lineman John Montelus, with athleticism a key factor in all of this.”

2017 OUTLOOK
Sometimes a player’s size alone gets him on the field. That could be the case with Dew-Treadway this season. Notre Dame simply does not have many other 300-pound options to clog the middle. That was essentially the reasoning behind recruiting the raw prospect.

Kelly mentioned Dew-Treadway’s work in the weight room. If that work is legitimate—and new director of football performance Matt Balis is able to get the most out of it—then Dew-Treadway’s tangible skills may be catching up to his size. One may be tempted to include the adverb finally in that previous sentence, but that would not be fair to Dew-Treadway. It made sense to spend his freshman campaign on the sidelines, and a foot fracture robbed him of the chance to get a handful of snaps in each game last season.

If he does not see notable action this year, such a disappointed syntax would be quickly appropriate. Dew-Treadway should be able to, at least, fill the middle for 10 snaps a game and total a couple tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. More than that would be a welcome gift for defensive coordinator Mike Elko. By no means has Bonner excelled so much that the opening is not there for Dew-Treadway to push for more opportunity.

DOWN THE ROAD
If that “at least” scenario plays out, Dew-Treadway will have established a strong base for the 2018 season and, if offered a fifth year, 2019, as well. Of all the names mentioned above, only Taylor and Tiassum would also have possible eligibility in 2019. Tillery will still be around in 2018, along with the possibilities of Bonner and Mokwuah.

Obviously recruits will join the ranks, but Dew-Treadway can stake a claim to future playing time if he takes advantage of available chances in 2017.


*By no means is the “What Keith Arnold projected a year ago” section intended to showcase what Keith did or did not get right. It is intended to provide further context of how a player has performed compared to reasonable expectations.

2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end