Strengths: Athletic, great length, very good balance, an agile runner and a good hitter. Dangerous in the open field.
Weaknesses: Can get more polished across the board, from technique to strength to pad level.
Here’s all you need to know about Hayes’ athleticism: you’ll see him catching a lot of balls in this highlight film, and he looks pretty good doing it. His next task will be to turn that tight end-style athleticism into an all-Big Ten behemoth at left tackle.
The odds are in his favor.
It’s still early in the recruiting cycle, but Michigan has prioritized Hayes and got him on campus recently - to great effect. Hayes grew out of being considered a tight end prospect, which means he’ll need to spend his senior year working on lateral agility more than downfield athleticism, and he’ll also be smart to bulk up.
Given his motor and development, there’s a chance he could be an early contributor, but the two big hurdles for that right now are adding muscle and getting comfortable with the hand-fighting necessary to control defenders. As is often the case, a redshirt is more likely than not, but he’s still a phenomenal long-term prospect. If he commits to Michigan, it will be very interesting to see how he does his senior year.
Player that he could turn into: I’m reminded of Grant Newsome, a guy who came to campus listed at 6’7”, 280 pounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hayes came in at the same weight, and then continued to develop at the same trajectory. Newsome now carries around 318 pounds while still keeping a great level of mobility intact. Again, that’s what I’d expect from Hayes in the long term.