COLUMBUS â€“ Dallan Hayden is the man Ohio State wanted in its 2022 running backs class.
He’s been a priority for months. And the Buckeyes got their wish on Tuesday afternoon, as the four-star Christian Brothers (Memphis) product committed to Tony Alford and Ohio State.Â
It had been a heated battle between Ohio State and Notre Dame to land Hayden, especially after a positive official visit to South Bend two weeks ago. The trip with the Irish forced some recalibration in his recruitment.
“I’ll say that [Notre Dame] really made up some ground,” Hayden told Lettermen Row. “I talked with their offensive coordinator a lot. You know, he was just telling me I was a top priority for him. And there was a plan to use me, so they made they made up some ground for sure.”
But the Buckeyes made an even stronger impression on Hayden last weekend, and they now get a special talent in the fold at running back.
Lettermen Row is breaking down Haydenâ€™s decision and what his recruitment means for Ohio State, the Big Ten and the entire 2022 recruiting class.
What Dallan Hayden gives Ohio State on field
Elusive, strong and agile, Dallan Hayden is a well-rounded addition for the Buckeyes backfield. He’s a well-put together 195-pounds and can run between the tackles or beat defenders to the edge. Hayden is productive, racking up more than 2,000 yards on the ground as a junior for the Purple Wave while scoring 24 touchdowns.
Hayden runs track, and that’s something the Buckeyes love to see as well. He may not have the top-end speed of TreVeyon Henderson or Evan Pryor yet, but he packs a punch and runs through tackles when needed. His father, Aaron, was a former Tennessee Volunteers tailback who spent four years in the NFL. His brother Chase was the country’s No. 4-ranked all-purpose running back in the Class of 2017, so there’s good genetics for strength coach Mickey Marotti to work with.
Thom McDaniel has seen all that up close during his high school career and knows how that can translate to the next level.
“Physically heâ€™s very gifted — heâ€™s big, strong, fast, runs very aggressively and with a chip on his shoulder,” McDaniel told Khari Thompson of CommercialAppeal.com.Â “Heâ€™s got wide vision, a big lens so to speak. He can see the whole field and cut it back in a split second, and sometimes he can make things right when theyâ€™re not perfect. As he continues to see more reps, I just think youâ€™re going to see his numbers continue to get even bigger.”
Looking for an Ohio State comparison? I think there’s a case to be made that Hayden gives the Buckeyes a bit of what Mike Weber did on the football field, but his high school film will draw comparisons to J.K. Dobbins.
There’s a ton of upside here. He’s a solid back capable of being a multiyear contributor and starter down the road.
What pickup means for Ohio State 2022 recruiting class
Ohio State knew heading into this recruiting cycle that it’d be tough sledding in the running back recruiting department. Fortunately for Tony Alford and Ryan Day, Hayden is the type of player and person who wants to be challenged and wants to be around guys like him. That’s what the Buckeyes are building, and Dallan Hayden is certainly the type of player and person to build a class around. He’ll have no problem stepping into a role as a recruiter
“I’ll definitely help recruit for the Buckeyes,” Hayden said.
It’s unlikely that he’ll have to recruit a tailback counterpart, however. Ohio State is probably done at running back in this cycle, provided there’s no unexpected attrition at the position before signing day.
Hayden is a Tennessee legacy who had offers from more than 30 schools across the country. His national ranking may not reflect it, but he was the top of the board at tailback for a reason for the Buckeyes. Now the attention can turn to filling out the offensive line and putting a cap on a very special recruiting haul for Ryan Day.
How Dallan Hayden impacts 2022 recruiting rankings
The recruitment of Dallan Hayden had squarely come down to an Ohio State-Notre Dame battle. As fate would have it, the Irish had ascended into the No. 2 ranking in the national composite rankings just behind the Buckeyes.
Ohio State, though, increases its lead in the pole position and firmly holds the No. 1 ranking in the 2022 class with 257.67 total points and an average player rating of 94.28. That is actually a slight drop than the Buckeyes had previously in the per-player average, but their 14-man class remains ranked No. 2 in that category behind Alabama (95.05 with seven commitments).
The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten conference with 14 verbals in the Class of 2022, and they continue to cruise to conference recruiting crown No. 11 in the past 12 cycles. Ohio State has four commitments currently ranked as five-star prospects, which is the most five-star pledges in the country. The program is also now tied with Georgia for the second-most four-star commitments (eight) in America.
The five-star group includes quarterback Quinn Ewers, cornerback Jaheim Singletary, receiver Caleb Burton and linebacker C.J. Hicks. The remainder of the Buckeyes class consists of Dallan Hayden, receiver Kyion Grayes, offensive lineman Tegra Tshabola, tight ends Bennett Christian and Benji Gosnell, linebacker Gabe Powers and defensive backs Jyaire Brown, Kye Stokes and Ryan Turner.Â
The race for a recruiting championship is on, and Ohio State is in great position. Landing Dallan Hayden is another key cog in the big picture plans.