Notre Dame senior defensive end Daelin Hayes will miss the rest of the season after tearing his labrum in the first quarter against Virginia on Saturday, coach Brian Kelly announced this morning.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Hayes, a former five-star recruit and one of the top defensive ends in the 2016 recruiting class, had been a solid contributor for the Irish in his first three seasons, though he was never the overpowering force that some expected him to be. He had shown signs of finally having that breakout in the early going this season, recording six tackles, including three for loss, and a sack going into the matchup against the Cavaliers. His teammates, especially his fellow defensive ends, had been adamant that he was going to make some huge plays for the Irish this season and against New Mexico he looked like one of the most explosive players on the defense.
Though this injury is disappointing, it doesn't necessarily mean that Hayes' career at Notre Dame is over. Because he got hurt in the fourth game of the season, he will be eligible for a medical redshirt. That means he could return to the Irish in 2020 if he chooses to do so rather than the enter the NFL draft. Coach Brian Kelly called a Hayes return next season "highly possible."
With Hayes out, it's likely that fellow senior Jamir Jones, a 6-foot-3, 255-pounder, will move into the defensive end rotation. Jones filled in for Hayes against the Cavaliers and made a name for himself, sacking quarterback Bryce Perkins in the third quarter and jarring the ball loose, giving Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa a chance to pick up the fumble and return it 48 yards to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
Jones is a career backup and he was actually on the scout team this week before being thrust into action against Virginia. Still, he's a talented player and the Irish were considering redshirting him this season so he could fill a role at defensive end next year with Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara and Hayes all graduated. Instead, Jones' time is now and his teammates expect him to be ready.
"Jamir's just one of those humble workers," Tagovailoa-Amosa said. "He doesn't complain about his role. He comes in day-in and day-out and just works his butt off. So what he did (Saturday), I'm not surprised. ... He deserves everything that's coming his way."