While the recruiting weekend was mostly focused on J.T. Tuimoloau finally making it to Columbus, there was other business BOOMing over the past few days as four-star running back Dallan Hayden announced his commitment to the Buckeyes.
The prospect currently ranks as the No. 237 player in the 2022 recruiting cycle, the 24th RB, and seventh player in the state of Tennessee. Hayden hails from Memphis where he attends Christian Brothers High School. His father, Aaron Hayden, played for the Volunteers in the early 1990s and went on to play for the Chargers, Packers, and Eagles during his NFL career.
The younger Hayden had long been expected to follow in his father’s footsteps to Rocky Top, but the tide began turning this spring as OSU running backs coach Tony Alford began to focus on the back. Following his official visit this weekend, apparently Hayden and his family had seen all that they needed to and he made his pledge official.
Spurning the Vols, Hayden also held offers from nearly three dozen schools, including Illinois and Notre Dame — both of whom he has also visited this month — Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Oregon, Texas A&M, Penn State, and more.
Standing at 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 195 pounds, Hayden already possesses a college running back’s frame, and he was been able to mix his size with an impressive burst. He possesses a combination of power and speed that allows him to break through tackles while turning early contact into long gains.
What will undoubtedly be appreciated by Alford and the rest of OSU’s offensive staff is that in high school and at camps, he has shown himself to be a capable pass catcher and pass-blocker.
Allen Trieu, 247Sports’ National Recruiting Analyst said of Hayden, “Runs hard, and does not stop on contact. Shows wiggle and elusiveness but mostly appears to be a one cut and go back.”
Dallan’s older brother Chase Hayden recently transferred to Illinois to play for Bert Bielema, who had originally recruited him to Arkansas. Unfortunately, there is no Battle for the Illibuck on the schedule this year, so since Chase is in his last year of eligibility, the only chance for the brothers Hayden to meet on the field will be if Bert gets his team to the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis.......... I’m sorry, I’ll finish the article in a second, I just need to catch my breath from laughing.
Ok, I’m good now. While some might be looking at Hayden’s rankings and thinking that he might not be talented enough to compete for playing time in OSU’s backfield, keep in mind that TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor were both highly recruited players just a class ahead of him.
So Ohio State was not necessarily looking to bring in another five-star talent at the position. What they are likely doing — as I believe they will with the QB position in 2023 — is looking for a talented player to serve as a solid backup in his first few seasons, who has the ability to develop into a legit playmaker when his time comes as an upperclassman.
With Master Teague, Miyan Williams, Marcus Crowley, and Steele Chambers also in the mix, the room is about to get pretty crowded. I would imagine that one (or three) of those guys will either end up changing positions or entering the transfer portal. Even if the Buckeyes put a high emphasis on the running game this season to support a first-year starter at quarterback, there’s never going to be enough carries to go around.
But, with someone like Hayden, who is talented, but not yet considered an elite prospect, he seems to be a player that the Ohio State coaching staff can work with over time so that he is hitting his potential in 2024 or 2025 when he becomes one of the elder statesmen in the room.
Hayden becomes the 14th commit to the Buckeyes’ 2022 class and the first running back. He joins QB Quinn Ewers (No. 1 overall), WR Caleb Burton (No. 33), WR Kaleb Brown (No. 60), and WR Kyion Grayes (No. 152) as the offensive skill players currently in the class.
Check out some highlights from Dallan Hayden’s junior season: