Ohio State just landed a commitment from its top running back target when Memphis Christian Brothers four-star Dallan Hayden pledged his services to the Buckeyes on Tuesday, his 18th birthday..
Throw on the tape and the 5-foot-11 and 195-pound Hayden will instantly remind you of former Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins in terms of his stature, burst, acceleration, vision and ability to fight for yards. Those attributes helped him rush for 2,010 yards and 24 touchdowns last season in one of the tougher leagues in Tennessee.
Simply put, you should pay no attention to his recruiting rankings.
“He’s been a three-year starter here for us, which is rare for a school our size,” Christian Brothers head coach Thomas McDaniel told Irish Breakdown's Bryan Driskell. “He’s got an older brother that’s been very successful at both the high school and collegiate level, has a dad that’s played in the NFL. Man, he’s just got the pedigree, everything is very positive for him.
“He’s got great vision and what I would call a ‘wide lens.’ He can see the field very well and can find creases on the backside of plays when necessary. He’s 205 pounds, he has elite power and above average speed. The biggest thing is his toughness. He’s durable, he can run in-between the tackles, circle the defense when he needs to or cut the ball back and expose people.”
One area where Hayden must improve, and is likely the reason he’s not rated as high as some of the other running backs with an offer from Ohio State, is his lack of opportunities in the passing game.
“He doesn’t catch the ball out of the backfield a whole lot for us, not to say that he can’t,” McDaniel said. “Obviously, he will have to continue to mature with his pass protections. He’s got things to work on and he knows that. But, he is going to end up being a 215-pound to 225-pound tailback that’s going to be able to play inside and outside the box. Fits into all schemes in any offensive run game.
“He’s always working on his speed, agility, and power. He’s a naturally strong kid in the weight room, works hard in the weight room. He spends a lot of time just running and conditioning. But again, as he gets older he’s just going to continue to get bigger and stronger. It just happens naturally for him. He’s always done a nice job with ball security, been really good at protecting the football. I think he would tell you the same thing and that’s that he wants to continue to build his football IQ.”
Hayden is a two-sport athlete who also runs track in the offseason. He’s also been praised for his leadership qualities, both on the field and off.
“To this point right now, he’s a lovable personality," McDaniel said. "I think one of the best compliments I can give to Dallan in school is that he hangs out with a variety of different people. You can see him walking down the hall with athletes, guys in the band, guys in theatre. He has a very unique friend group.
“As far as his leadership qualities, he’s a good leader by example but is also developing into a more vocal leader. He’s very upbeat, very open minded and coachable. I think he’s got a good combination of vocal leadership and by example.”
All that said, it’s easy to see why Hayden was a top target for running backs coach Tony Alford despite considerable interest from Littleton (Colo.) Valor Christian four-star Gavin Sawchuk, Reading (Pa.) Governor Mifflin four-star Nicholas Singleton, Clayton (N.C.) Cleveland four-star Omarion Hampton and others.
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