Skyline (Ann Arbor, Mich.) linebacker Daelin Hayes says that if he has a weakness, it’s overthinking things on the field. That wasn’t a problem when it came to deciding which postseason all-star invitation he would take.
On Monday, he was presented with his jersey for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Jan. 9 in San Antonio, Texas, as part of the game’s Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
“I was invited back when I was a sophomore and played in the Sound Mind, Sound Body Camp (in suburban Detroit),” Hayes says. “Obviously, I committed on the spot. It comes down to what the Army game represents — the men and women who serve our country. Obviously, that’s a huge thing, to be a part of that honor. Doing a little bit of research, they do great community service. Obviously, it’s a great time. Plus, you look at the alumni with guys like Ezekial Elliottt and Adrian Peterson, all great players. It was an absolute honor to be nominated. It was really a no-brainer.”
RELATED: Follow the Selection Tour
At 6-4 and 250, Hayes plays outside linebacker and running back at Skyline and runs the 100 and 200 meters in track and is a high jumper, so there’s little question about his athletic ability. The hard part for him has been staying on the field.
Because of injuries and transfers, he’s played only a handful of games in high school. Sidelined by a right shoulder injury, he played in three games as a sophomore at St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.). Last season as a junior, he played in three games for St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.) before moving back to Detroit. He attended Cass Tech in Detroit the rest of the season but did not play. This season, after transferring to Skyline, he played in three games until he injured his left shoulder against nationally ranked Saline on Sept. 11.
“Just being able to play at all this season has been the highlight,” Hayes says. “It’s banged up, but it’s all good. I’m just blessed to be in this position, so I’m just taking it one game at a time.”
Hayes is the rare elite recruit from Ann Arbor who won’t be wearing the Maize and Blue of Michigan. He said he’s planning on enrolling early this January at Southern Cal and he’s already signed his scholarship agreement from the Trojans.
“I’m pretty cool with the lot of the players there, so that should help with the transition,” Hayes says. “When you’re confident with a system, it really helps and that’s my logic behind early enrollment. Getting in and working within the playbook and learning in the offseason. That way, by the time fall comes around, it will be instinct instead of trying to pick up a new playbook on the fly.”
Hayes says he’s always been about a year ahead in what credits he needs to attend college.
“I’ve been a year of my credits since I was a freshman,” Hayes says. “Not knowingly, I’ve been prepping myself for this moment since I came in high school.”
His cousin, Justice Hayes, played as a running back for three seasons for the Wolverines but transferred this year to Southern Miss. Daelin Hayes says his own choice of USC has meant he’s caught grief from Michigan fans.
“I hear it all the time,” Hayes said. “At the end of the day, it’s my decision and it’s final.”