Another talented tailback is coming to Columbus.
Four-star Memphis tailback Dallan Hayden committed to Ohio State today, giving Tony Alford his first pledge for the 2022 class. The Buckeyes are coming off a 2020 running back haul that included five-star TreVeyon Henderson and four-star Evan Pryor. Needless to say, the room is going to be in good hands for quite some time.
While he's not rated as highly as the 2020 duo, Hayden has been a guy that Alford locked in on fairly early in the recruiting cycle. He earned a scholarship offer nearly 10 months ago.
For a second-straight year, the Buckeyes are set to sign its top target at the position. Ryan Day and Tony Alford have to be excited about the room that's being assembled in Columbus.
On the Field
At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Hayden served as the bell cow for the Christian Brothers program in Tennessee last season. He carried the ball 232 times in just nine games, which averaged out to about 26 totes per contest.
It was his first season as a full-time running back, which is precisely why most outlets initially had him listed as an athlete. Prior to the 2020 season, he was actually viewed as more of a cornerback prospect. Ole Miss offered him as an athlete, Notre Dame recruited him initially as a running back who might have a chance to play defense, and Tennessee – in the Jeremy Pruitt era – wanted him to play defensive back.
But that all changed during the offseason leading up to his junior year of high school.
Hayden added 20 pounds of muscle while working out with his father and older brother. The position change made sense considering the added bulk. And it certainly doesn't hurt when his father – Aaron Hayden – played running back at Tennessee and spent four seasons in the NFL.
Hayden is not the biggest back, but he does have adequate size for the position. His highlight tape shows a balanced back who appears to be good at just about everything even if he doesn't possess elite speed. He's not a straight-line type in the mold of Master Teague and there is some shiftiness to his game. Hayden also doesn't shy away from contact and has no issue lowering his shoulder when needed.
The Purple Wave runs a read-option offense that at times is pretty reminiscent of what we've gotten used to in Columbus. Overall, Hayden is an athletic, productive back even if he isn't quite as flash as a guy like TreVeyon Henderson. With only one full year at the position, the four-star should have a bright future under Alford's tutelage.
Off the field, he has already shown his desire to use football to help the community, too. During the year, he raised money for a charity called Coaching for Literacy which helps to teach kids to learn how to read. Hayden told WMC 5 Action News that he struggled to read as a child, so he got involved and raised more than $20,000.
In the Class
As the No. 14 commitment in Ryan Day's 2022 recruiting class, Dallan Hayden is the lone running back commitment, and that's likely to remain the case through signing day. Right now the plan is for the Buckeyes to take just one tailback before loading up once again in 2023.
The addition only increases Ohio State's lead over Notre Dame, LSU, and Georgia, in the national team rankings. Right now, the Buckeyes are the only school in college football with a dozen commitments from four-star and five-star prospects.
With Miyan Williams, TreVeyon Henderson, and Evan Pryor all in the mix next year, Hayden shouldn't need to come in and contribute right away in 2022. Instead, he'll likely be eased into action before taking on more of a role during his second season.
Because Alford has already taken care of the 2022 cycle, he can turn his focus to 2023 where Ohio State is in a good position for pair of studs, Richard Young and Treyaun Webb. Both are five-star prospects who've been at Ohio State to camp and work out with Alford this month. Young is the No. 1 running back prospect in his class and Webb is the No. 3 athlete.
Now that Hayden has made his decision, that pair of rising juniors will find themselves directly in the Buckeyes' recruiting crosshairs.