The Hurry-Up: Dallan Hayden Makes Ohio State and Notre Dame Visits, Benji Gosnell Sees Potential Early Playing Time Opportunity

By Zack Carpenter on March 18, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Dallan Hayden

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 visits Ohio State, Notre Dame

Priority running back target Dallan Hayden out of Memphis hinted with Eleven Warriors earlier this week that he was planning a self-guided visit to Ohio State after discussions with Tony Alford.

Hayden, who is emerging as perhaps the Buckeyes' top target at the position in 2022, made that visit on Wednesday in a bit of a surprise.

Hayden is on spring break right now so he and his father made the trek up to Columbus before they depart for a self-guided visit to Notre Dame. As we've noted a few times recently, Ohio State and Notre Dame have emerged as the top two schools for Hayden with Tennessee lurking but now running third.

A lot of smoke here so it's something to keep all of our eyes peeled out for as Hayden could elect to go into decision mode in the near future.

Gosnell fired up to be back, sees potential to contribute early

Talk with any high school player who’s committed to Ohio State weeks later, and he’ll admit that he feels like there’s a target on his back.

That’s how East Surry (North Carolina) four-star tight end commit Benji Gosnell has felt over the first three weeks of the season. But he’s not likely to care.

Gosnell, whose high school season in North Carolina was pushed back from the fall to the spring, is just happy to be back out there playing. His Cardinals are off to a 2-1 start in their nine-game season – including a 12-9 defensive slugfest in Week 1 and a 49-7 drubbing in Week 3 for their two victories.

Each game has been a showcase of celebrating for Gosnell.

“Oh, it’s awesome dude,” Gosnell told Eleven Warriors about finally getting back into action. “The first game was cold, freezing rain. But, dude, I felt like a kid locked in a candy store who had all night to get what he wanted. I was so excited, I was screaming and yelling. I was jumping up and down. I feel like I used more energy celebrating and things like that than I did during the game because I was so excited.

“That hasn’t really changed these last two games since the first one. I’ve always been an ecstatic player, and just the fact that we’re getting to play is awesome. I honestly didn’t think we were even gonna make it this far. But it’s sick. I feel like a little kid every time I step on the field.”

Through three weeks of the season, Gosnell has amassed team highs in receptions (eight), receiving yards (124) and receiving touchdowns (two) while averaging 15.5 yards per catch. He’s been dealing with some very minor back and hip injuries, but he says they’re so minor that “it just kind of hurts” and would barely classify them as injuries. Sounds eerily reminiscent of the scene in The Program when head coach James Caan asks running back Omar Epps if he’s “hurt or injured.”

Wouldn’t expect anything less from a tight end.

And knowing Gosnell on a personal level, you wouldn’t be surprised, either, to learn that he says not much has really changed ever since he committed to the Buckeyes in November. We always like to check in on commits in the weeks and months after they make that decision to see how things have been different for them, but other than the fact that he doesn’t have to deal with recruiting anymore, it’s been mostly status quo.

“The only thing that’s really changed in my life is how often certain coaches would reach out,” Gosnell said. “Really, no other coaches besides ones from Ohio State reach out which is a real plus. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that. Other than that, nothing’s really changed. I’ve been busier since then, but I don’t think that’s because of my commitment. My life hasn’t really changed a bit since I committed.”

He did, however, get an influx of fan support from the Buckeyes, which isn’t much of a surprise.

“That first week and first couple days after I committed, they were really supportive,” Gosnell said. “They were congratulating me, people I didn’t even know. They were just big Ohio State fans, they would message me on Twitter and be like, ‘I know you don’t know me, but I’m a big Ohio State fan and congrats.’ That was really cool to see all the support from the fan base and things like that. I know when my brother committed to UNC, he got a lot of hate from (NC State) fans. I didn’t really get any hate at all. It’s not that I would’ve cared if I would’ve, but it was really cool to see some nice messages congratulating me and things like that.”

Gosnell tells Eleven Warriors that the plan is for him to graduate next semester and enroll early at Ohio State in January 2022. Until then, he has nine months to train, add muscle (his personal goal is to be around 223-225 pounds of good weight when he arrives) and improve his pass-catching and blocking techniques.

That’s all in the name of arriving on campus as polished as possible as Gosnell sees a window for early playing time either in his first or second year on campus.

“I mean, that’s always the goal. I don’t think anyone’s ever training to be a backup,” Gosnell said. “Especially right now, I’m always working extra hard. Ever since I did commit, I’ve been working extra hard. Ruckert’s gonna be gone, Farrell’s gone, I think their oldest guy might be a junior. I’m not really sure. I don’t know how deep they are right now. I just wanna get there in the best condition I can be and have the highest football IQ I can have.

“I feel like I can (compete for a two-deep spot). I don’t wanna say I wouldn’t. I feel like I can be a benefit and help in the game. Knowing how hard I work and knowing I’m gonna work four or five times harder once I get there. And even if I don’t make as much of an impact as I’d like to, I wanna develop myself into my sophomore year. So, hopefully, my sophomore year I can get a lot of reps in the game and maybe even start.”

 Header photo: Dallan Hayden – Joe Rondone/USA Today

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