Offensive lineman Ryan Hayes will be looking to put together his best season yet in 2021 after an injury-shortened 2020 campaign. He steps into his fourth year with the program as a player that is being relied upon to anchor one of the available spots on the offensive line.
Michigan hopes that his return this year will help stabilize the offense. Here, we look back on his career arc to this point and see where things might be headed next.
The story so far
Hayes was brought to Michigan as a tight end but transitioned to the offensive line, as former OL coach Ed Warinner was tantalized by his 6-foot-7 frame. The Traverse City native was a four-star prospect in the 2018 class ranked No. 335 in the country, No. 23 at offensive tackle and No. 5 in Michigan. Hayes played defensive end, tight end, punter and was on the basketball and baseball teams in high school.
Hayes has started four games in his Michigan career at left tackle and has appeared in 14 games in all — numbers that would be higher if he didn’t injure his foot the second game of 2020 vs. Michigan State.
“From here to last year, I definitely feel bigger, stronger, I feel more capable to do things,” Hayes said before the 2020 season. “Been working on my technique all summer and just doing sets, all you can do. But I definitely feel like I made big strides in my weight and my strength, so I was feeling more confident going into this season.”
Fortunately, Hayes has long since recovered from the injury and has been full systems go this spring.
“We’re very fortunate to have Ryan Hayes back out there for a full spring. He’s a guy who started the first game last year and then we completely lost him for the season. Getting him caught back up, getting his feet wet. He’s been playing at a really high level,” offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said.
Outlook moving forward
Hayes appears to be locked in as Michigan’s starting left tackle this season, and he’s now under the tutelage of new o-line coach Sherrone Moore, someone who Hayes says the unit wants to fight for. “We got a lot of confidence right now with coach Moore. He’s brought such a juice to the room, people are playing with confidence, they’re not really scared to make mistakes,” Hayes said. “You really just wanna go to war for the guy honestly. When he talks, people listen. He just brings a different sort of energy.”
Hayes has the build and physicality at 6-foot-7, 302 pounds to beat defenders with his strength and length. It also doesn’t hurt that he has flashes of agility, being a former tight end and all.