OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Daelin Hayes spoke to Ravens coach John Harbaugh just days before the draft and talked about their first encounter when he was a high school athlete in Michigan.
Harbaugh left quite an impression on Hayes.
"Back when I was in high school, we had the Five Star Challenge," Hayes said. "The Five Star Challenge was obviously at M&T Bank Stadium. I remember Coach Harbaugh came and spoke to us and just kind of told a story about him and his brother way back when they would have these wrestling matches on their family vacations. They kind of had these stare-downs, and they were like, ‘This is where we stand.’ He was like … He compared that to when they played in the Super Bowl, and that was kind of like that standoff. It wasn’t … Obviously, they’re not kids any more wrestling, but that was kind of that, ‘This is where we stand’ moment between brothers.
"So, I remember having that conversation, and it stuck with me, I don’t know why, for like five [or] six years. I’ve just been a Baltimore fan for so long. [There have] just been really weird nuances where Baltimore has kind of come up in my life, and it’s kind of crazy to see how it all came full circle today. So, it’s an amazing experience.”
Hayes actually grew up a Ravens fan, so he was ecstatic when the team selected him in the fifth round of the NFL draft. He'll join two other Notre Dame alums — Ronnie Stanley and Miles Boykin — on the roster.
"Baltimore has been my favorite team since I was a kid. That love, that genuine love that I’ve always had for the city of Baltimore, for that team when Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and those guys were locking guys down – that was really the example that I had when I started playing defense. That genuine love, the work ethic, a versatile player, [my] best ball is ahead. I’m going to go in, bust my butt, learn from the older guys and compete to the highest level.
In his five seasons with the Fighting Irish, Hayes recorded 97 tackles, 20.5 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, one interception, four passes defended, and four forced fumbles. He was named team captain in 2020 and is heralded for all the work he does in the community. He was a Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year finalist in 2020.
Now, he'll get the opportunity to create his own legacy in Baltimore.
"Watching Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, some of my favorite … Even Terrell Suggs, when I was a younger guy, just watching that defense, just turning on Sunday Night Football and seeing them play under the lights or playing with them on Madden, it was a great experience," Hayes said.