Over the weekend, Michigan picked up a commitment from four-star Traverse City West OT Ryan Hayes. Hayes is the second in-state offensive linemen to pick the Wolverines in the last week, joining Grand Rapids Catholic Central four-star Jalen Mayfield. Like Mayfield, Hayes fits the mold of a Greg Frey tackle—big-framed, lean, and athletic enough to play tight end in high school.
"I just really liked it in Ann Arbor," Hayes said. "I liked all the coaches. It just felt right, and I was ready to commit."
The 6-foot-7, 252-pound junior said the Wolverines plan to use him at tight end to start and see where he goes from there.
"We'll see what happens with my body, if I move to tackle or not," Hayes said.
"I just knew right on that visit, I wanted to go there," Hayes said. "It was everything. As soon as I got there, walking around, talking to a few coaches and people, it felt right from the start."
Hayes had heavy contact with Michigan State throughout his recruitment and Notre Dame emerged as the presumed leader when they joined the fray. After Michigan offered in February and got Hayes on campus, however, the recruitment moved quickly:
Hayes is the tenth commit in the 2018 class. He's the third in-state commit (Mayfield, Aiden Hutchinson) and third offensive lineman (Mayfield, Emil Ekiyor) in the class.
4*, #21 OT,
|3*, #49 OT||4*, 80, #30 OT||
4*, 93, #10 OT,
4*, #17 OT,
The rankings for Hayes are all over the map, at least in part because of a lack of exposure. Scout is the only site that has published scouting reports on Hayes, who hasn't hit the camp circuit. 247 is particularly bullish, which was also the case with Mayfield; they seem to like that type of lineman. Rivals is a major outlier on the low end, ranking Hayes as the #17 prospect in the state; that's almost certain to change.
Hayes is listed at 6'7" and 250-255 pounds. When he packs on some weight, he'll look like a prototypical tackle.
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Hayes is a natural. His parents were both varsity athletes at Central Michigan. His father played football, while his mother held the school's all-time scoring record in basketball for over two decades. Ryan plays three sports himself; in addition to football, he's a standout center for the basketball team and boasts a fastball in the upper 80s as a starting pitcher on the baseball squad. Even though he's one of the biggest players on the field, he lines up at tight end for Traverse City West, and as you'll see in the highlights he's not just a blocker. His coach ascribes to the Harbaugh belief that playing multiple sports is better than specializing:
“You look at almost every elite athlete and they played two if not three sports,” said Tim Wooer, head football coach at Traverse City West. “It helps on the competitive end. You compete every day for nine or 10 months out of the year. Basketball helps him with his footwork, explosiveness, his lateral agility and burst. Baseball, I don’t know if there’s a real close carryover from baseball to football with him being a pitcher. But you just want kids to enjoy high school and have the opportunity to compete on a daily basis.”
Wooer sees Hayes as very similar to one of his former players and a top Frey target in his first stint at Michigan, Jake Fisher:
“He’s just very athletic,” Wooer said. “He’s got good legs and can bend low. He’s about 255 pounds right now and he’ll be 300 pounds in no time. He has a nastiness and toughness to him as well. He will be very effective. He’s athletic enough to someday be a left tackle.”
As a tight end, Hayes uses his huge frame to his advantage. Wooer told Sam Webb he could see Hayes playing either TE or OT at the next level:
“I think he is talented enough to play tight end. He is not going to take the top off the defense, but he is an incredible target. He has got good range, good hands, is athletic, and he would be one heck of a run-blocker in the heavy sets, which they use. But by the same token he would be an excellent left tackle down the road. He is going to be able to do whatever Michigan wants him to do.”
Since Hayes hasn't played tackle in high school or hit the camp circuit, there's not much out there from people who aren't his head coach, but Scout's free eval suggests he has a lot of potential at OT:
EvaluationBig framed high school tight end who will project to [offensive tackle] at the next level. Very good athlete, a three-sport athlete who is coordinated, has good balance and flexibility. Used as a blocker as a tight end, so he has experience in the run game and does well in that aspect. Must learn to play tackle and continue to add weight and strength to play left tackle in the future, but has a very high ceiling as a tackle.
- Body Control and Balance
Areas to Improve
- Power And Strength
Hayes should begin his career as a ready-made blocking tight end with some upside as a red zone target, making him an ideal fit in Harbaugh's heavy sets. Down the road, however, he should fill out and be a full-time tackle—and, based on his film and profile, he could be a very good one.
Michigan's primary competition for Hayes was Notre Dame and, to a lesser extent, Michigan State. He also holds offers from Cal, Central Michigan, Kentucky, Minnesota, Northwestern, TCU, Vanderbilt, and Virginia.
Traverse City West is one of the better programs in the region. While they don't produce a ton of Division I talent, the aforementioned Jake Fisher ended up as a second-round pick after playing his college ball at Oregon, and 2008 three-star lineman Rocko Khoury spent four years at Michigan during the RichRod/Hoke transition.
None that I could find.
FAKE 40 TIME
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Hayes' utilization will depend on how he develops physically both before and after he arrives at Michigan. The current plan is to start him as a tight end, where he could see time right away in goal line and heavy sets, though given how much development he'll need at tackle a redshirt could also be in the cards. As Hayes fills out, he'll likely transition to tackle, where he'd probably need two or three years before he's ready to see the field as a full-time starter—in the interim, he's likely to be utilized as the rare extra OL in heavy sets who's an actual threat to leak out and catch a pass.
Down the road, Hayes has a ton of potential as a tackle. It may take a while to come together, but the physical tools are all there.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan can really zero in on top offensive line targets with Hayes, Mayfield, and Ekiyor in the fold, including four-star GA OG James Ohonba and three-star IMG OT Daniel Faalele. Other positions of need include tight end and defensive tackle, and the staff will push to add a second quarterback (likely Tyler Shough) plus top targets at running back, wide receiver, and in the defensive backfield.
Hayes' commitment moves Michigan up to #7 on the composite team rankings. Here's the class as it currently stands: