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Ryan Hayes’ path to Michigan, outlook for 2022

The All-Big Ten honoree returns for a fifth season.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last season, the Michigan Wolverines boasted an award-winning offensive line that helped push them past Ohio State and eventually win the Big Ten Championship. Three starters from that unit return in 2022, with fifth-year left tackle Ryan Hayes being one of them to anchor the blindside for Michigan quarterbacks.

Let’s evaluate his time in Ann Arbor so far and estimate where he is headed this season.

The story so far

The Traverse City native was a four-star and the No. 5 recruit in the state of Michigan in the 2018 recruiting class. At 6-foot-7 and 252 pounds, Hayes played tight end, defensive end, offensive tackle and punter in high school. He also received accolades on the court playing basketball and on the rubber as a pitcher at Traverse City West.

Coming into Ann Arbor, the Wolverines had a stacked offensive line group in 2018 that held Hayes to his redshirt status. But he started to see the field a bit more as a sophomore. He started against Middle Tennessee and Army to open up the 2019 season, then was a reserve who saw playing time at both left and right tackle in 12 games.

In 2020, he was slated to be a starter full-time. Instead, after just two games in a woeful season, Hayes injured his foot against Michigan State, costing him his season. Albeit, that was only four games and the injury wasn’t too serious.

As a senior in 2021, Hayes started all 14 games through the College Football Playoff loss to Georgia. His play helped the unit win the Joe Moore Award for the best offensive line in college football. He also earned himself some hardware as he was named a second-team All-Big Ten honoree by the coaches and was an honorable mention by the media.

Outlook for 2022

Hayes is set to be the leader of the offensive line in 2022 and compete for the title as the best left tackle in the conference. His size and athleticism has been on display for quite some time. With another offseason of work under his belt, hopefully his footwork and form will continue to sharpen him into an even more dominant player.

If Hayes can continue to keep whoever is behind center upright, the Wolverines are going to be in good shape on the offensive end this year.