For new Ravens edge rusher Daelin Hayes, the dream of playing for the storied Baltimore defense has been one he’s had since he was a child.
Along with his favorite colors being purple and black and choosing the Ravens every time he played Madden, Hayes grew up idolizing the likes of Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. He even got the opportunity to play at M&T Bank Stadium during the Rivals Five-Star Challenge in 2015.
His dream of donning the purple and black became a reality May 2 when the Ravens selected Hayes in the fifth round out of Notre Dame with the No. 171 overall pick.
“It’s just really kind of a full circle moment,” Hayes said on Glenn Clark Radio May 4. “When I was able to get the phone call and really just reflect on it, my connection and how much I loved the city, how much I loved the Baltimore Ravens, the team, it was just a blessing.”
Despite growing up in Michigan and attending college at Notre Dame, Hayes has yet another special connection to the Baltimore area. His godfather, Harlem Morton, lives in Laurel, Md., and Hayes spent multiple summers with him.
Morton and Hayes share a special bond through that time together. Morton was the person who introduced Hayes to football. He bought him his first ball and pair of cleats and encouraged him to get started in the sport.
Hayes’ connection to Morton makes him even more excited to play in Baltimore.
“He was a huge part of my football journey and my journey as a young man and just growing and refining into the man I am today,” Hayes said.
On the football side of things, Hayes also seems like a perfect fit for the historic Ravens defense. He fills a need for the Ravens, who lost edge rushers Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free agency this offseason.
Throughout his five years (2016-2020) in South Bend, Ind., the 6-foot-4, 253-pound Hayes tallied 97 tackles, nine sacks, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and one interception. Hayes believes that the scheme run by the Fighting Irish didn’t allow him to fully showcase his pass rush ability.
Given the possibility of playing the SAM linebacker position in Baltimore — which Hayes says is a “jack-of-all-trades” spot — Hayes hopes he will be able to display his skills in that area even more.
“I’m excited to be able to showcase that and to be able to contribute in any way that I can,” Hayes said. “And hopefully just be a part of that long line of a great defense. The standard is the standard and it just motivates me.”
One of the defensive players that set that standard was Pro Football Hall of Famer Ed Reed. Hayes got to develop a relationship with Reed when the legendary Ravens safety visited South Bend and made an appearance at the Rivals Five-Star challenge.
The wisdom that Reed shared with Hayes — including the detail-orientated notebook he would keep every year — is something Hayes says will help him as he transitions to the professional level.
“There’s always something else to learn,” Hayes said. “Part of being a professional is being as prepared as possible. So that was one of the things as a player that really stuck out to me.”
One of the other things Hayes took from Reed was the importance of being involved off the field. Hayes was nominated as a finalist for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award in 2020 for his leadership within the South Bend community.
Hayes participated in many efforts to give back to the local community in Indiana. He served on the football program’s Unity Council and taught classes at South Bend’s Robinson Community Learning Center for fourth- and fifth-graders, among many other charity efforts.
As Hayes begins his journey playing for his dream team, he hopes to be an inspiration for others in the Baltimore community to achieve their dreams as well.
“It’s about servant leadership, getting in the community, getting your hands to the plow, being tangible and accessible to the youth just so that they know that this is attainable,” Hayes said. “It’s something that I love to do. I’ve done it all throughout my years at Notre Dame and it’s something I look forward to doing in the community of Baltimore.”
For more from Hayes, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics