By Evan PaputaFootball Editor
Fans of all ages entered Chuck Gordon Field on the campus of Westland John Glenn Thursday night with one burning question on their mind: how good is Daelin Hayes?
After watching four quarters chalk full of positive energy and passion for football, I can definitively say that the 2016 Ann Arbor Skyline athlete and USC commit Hayes is absolutely as good as advertised- he showed so on the first snap of the game.
Lined up at the left side of Skyline’s defensive line, Hayes read quarterback Nathan Szymanski’s handoff to Jaylen Smith. Without hesitation Hayes shimmied through the right tackle and guard and met Smith at the line of scrimmage.
“Oh. Oh. Oh… It was great,” Hayes said about the first play.
Adding another element to Hayes’ outstanding Skyline debut was the Rocket offense literally and figuratively running away from him, scared. Despite John Glenn never running anywhere near him after the first play of the game, Hayes compiled six tackles and even forced a fumble.
All offseason recruiting analysts that projected him as a 5-star and number one player in the state of Michigan surely were curious of what his performance on the field would be after sitting out October and November at Cass Tech and playing minimally in the first three games at St. Bonaventure in California. They wondered if he would be able to match the hype that surrounded him at the 2013 Prep Kickoff Classic as a sophomore at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s competing against Oak Park.
Was it just hype or was it talent?
Hayes showed his unmatched athleticism when he chased a running back down that ran to the opposite sideline away from him, he showed his toughness by running the ball on third and short situations for first downs, he showed his football IQ by organizing Skyline’s formations on both sides of the ball, he showed his strength when he fought through double team blocks to get to the backfield, and he showed his love for the game by sprinting on to the field an hour before the game began.
Daelin Hayes says he will take official visits to USC and Notre Dame. Says Michigan State is still in the hunt. pic.twitter.com/y8lzc7iteD— Evan Paputa (@EvanPaputa) August 28, 2015
The list could go on, but I’ll stop there. Hayes is every bit of 6’3 and 250 pounds. He played with a swagger and a humbleness that can’t be matched. He was the leader of the Eagles, emotionally and athletically, and was thrilled to finally be able to just play football.
For a 17 year-old kid that has caught more than a few bad breaks these past couple of years- including a season-ending injury as a sophomore and the Michigan-to-California-to-Michigan transfer last year- you’d never be able to tell while he sported a smile from cheek to cheek following the game.
“I am a blessed individual. These last two years I’ve been out- things that I haven’t had any control over- but you just have to take that in stride, that’s how life is. It’s not about how many times you get hit, it’s about how many times you get up,” Hayes said.
Although Skyline does not have much of a football tradition, the 38-14 win over John Glenn was only their tenth win in school history, there’s no reason why they can’t build something this fall. They showed lots of promise with quarterback Joe Bob Walker, running back Charles Jones, and Hayes.
With the first win out of the way, Hayes and Skyline can move on knowing that he left the field with a lot to be proud of. A great player, but an even better person.