The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.
Hayden breaks down top four schools
Dallan Hayden is a happy dude.
And not just because he has a quartet of great programs in Ohio State, Oregon, Notre Dame and Tennessee as the top four schools left in his recruitment.
Hayden, the No. 25 running back in America’s 2022 class and the No. 8 player in Tennessee, is glad to be in the position he’s in. And he might be just as happy to have seen what Aaron Rodgers did to the Rams’ defense on Saturday.
Hayden is a lifelong Packers fan, cheering on Green Bay since he was a kid after his dad – former NFL running back Aaron Hayden – played for Packers in addition to his stints with the Chargers and Eagles.
So when we spoke with the younger Hayden on Saturday afternoon just before kickoff of Green Bay’s eventual 32-18 win, we made sure to keep it brief because he had to hunker down on the couch and lock it in.
“Yeah, I’ve been a Packers fan for a long time,” Hayden told Eleven Warriors. “I hope they get it this year.”
The Packers aren’t the only organization he’s been a fan of for years, though. Hayden’s dad was a fourth-round pick out of the University of Tennessee, where he rushed for more than 2,000 yards on about 400 carries, so he understandably grew up rooting for the Vols. Hayden’s mom was also a cheerleader for the Vols, adding to the familiarity of the school.
“They run a very similar offense to the one I run at my high school right now. They think I fit their system perfect, and I agree with them.”– Dallan Hayden on ohio state
But just because Hayden – a 5-foot-11, 195-pound four-star running back out of Christian Brothers High School in Memphis – is a Tennessee resident has been hearing Rocky Top since he was a kid doesn’t mean the Vols are the leader in his recruitment.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that. I mean, they’re in my top four, but I wouldn’t say they’re the favorite,” Hayden said. “Their head coach, Jeremy Pruitt, he’s trying to keep the best in-state kids to stay in the state of Tennessee. And he wants me to be a part of that. And obviously my dad went there, my mom went there. I grew up watching UT football for a while.”
Hayden won’t be making any decisions based on fandom, though, and that’s where the other three programs in his top four factor in.
- Ohio State: “They offered me in August. Ever since then, they’ve been in contact nonstop. Coach (Tony) Alford texts me every day, and we’ve been on the phone quite a bit. Ryan Day also texts me a lot, same with Brian Hartline. He hits me up quite a bit. The whole staff knows me and makes me feel like a priority.”
- Notre Dame: “They offered me back in June, and they’ve been in contact with me nonstop. Me and Coach Lance Taylor, we built up a pretty good relationship. He’s been recruiting me really hard. And I hear from Tommy Rees a lot, and Brian Kelly texts me quite a bit.
- Oregon: “Oregon, they’re a Pac-12 team. They always make big bowl games, and they’re usually in the Pac-12 championship. They’ve grown on me. Rod Chance recruits me pretty hard. I hear from them at least twice a week on text.”
But, naturally since we cover Ohio State, we brought the conversation back to the Buckeyes and asked him what’s been different (if anything) about Ohio State’s approach in his recruitment.
“Just the constant communication,” Hayden said. “Some schools will hit you up twice a week, but they’re almost every day. Every day I hear from one of those three.
“It’s been great. I can’t say anything else. They’re in constant communication with me. They always talk to me about being a Buckeye and joining the family.”
Hayden says he’s been in contact with, and has “pretty good relationships,” with Dasan McCullough, Caleb Burton and Bennett Christian, each of whom has been on Hayden about becoming a Buckeye “almost every week.”
He also says that Alford, Day and Hartline have each made it clear why they want him in Columbus.
“Coach Alford said he can see me being used all over and getting involved in the pass game, getting used in the slot because I’m very versatile,” Hayden said. “They just think I fit their offense. They run a very similar offense to the one I run at my high school right now. They think I fit their system perfect, and I agree with them.
“They love my speed, like how I run pretty physical and don’t go down after the first tackle. I don’t go down real easily.”
But it’s not just the on-field stuff that Hayden brings to the table, however, that has him viewed highly by Day and Co.
Prior to his junior season, Hayden and his parents created a charity in which money was donated – by people in the state of Tennessee and “from all over,” he says – to the organization “Coaching for Literacy” that gives books to kids who can’t afford them and teaches children how to read. For every touchdown he scored, a certain amount of money was donated.
He wound up scoring 24 touchdowns and raising $20,000.
“(I just wanted) to give back to the city of Memphis,” Hayden said. “Just to help people in my city who don’t have a lot of money to afford books and to help with their reading and writing. … Coach Alford and Coach Day were really impressed with that.”
Hayden actually lived in Columbus for about nine months as a baby, so he doesn’t have any memories of the city but there’s a small bit of familiarity with the city. He says he and his parents have talked about making a visit at some point to campus but that nothing is set in stone.
Also not set in stone is a decision date for Hayden, but the No. 252 overall player in the 2022 cycle says he wants to commit to a college before his senior season begins.
“I wanna be able to be comfortable around the coaches and have good interactions with the coaches,” Hayden said. “The academics are gonna be a big part. Ohio State and Notre Dame have really good business programs. That’s what I wanna major in. And obviously the football program is gonna be a big part.”
In my opinion, Hayden is a take at Ohio State. We will see if the Buckeyes wind up taking one or two running backs in this class, but Hayden, Nicholas Singleton and Damari Alston (in some order) should probably be considered the top-three at running back for them in 2022.
Header photo: Dallan Hayden – Max Gersh/USA Today