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Hayes Wins Freddie Solomon Community Spirit Award

NOTRE DAME, Indiana — Notre Dame graduate student defensive lineman Daelin Hayes has won the Freddie Solomon Community Spirit Award, honoring a collegiate football player who has impacted the lives of others through giving and community service. 

Freddie Solomon, a two-time Super Bowl Champion, marked his life by his play on the field and his work after retirement in his local community. Hayes was selected by the family of the late Solomon for the honor out of candidates from across the FBS. 

“Every year I am excited to read about what all of these outstanding young men are doing in their schools and communities,” said Dee Solomon, the wife of Freddie Solomon.  “A major part of Freddie’s life was just helping others, and I just love to see that spirit in others.  Daelin has done so much outside of his team responsibilities that I can see helping others is a major part of his life as well.”

Hayes, a team captain, has taken a leading role in the program in speaking out on racial injustice and inequality. He serves as part of the program’s unity council, which has undertaken initiatives like registering the entire team to vote in November. He has also served as a voice for those efforts and a commitment to health and safety, joining programs like NBC’s The Today Show to speak on behalf of the team. 

His efforts have been evidenced in Hayes leading the organization of a rally in honor of Juneteenth on the Notre Dame campus. Organizing the event in roughly 72 hours, Hayes also gave a speech. In addition to Hayes, prayers were offered by University president Rev. John Jenkins and teammate Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, while teammate Max Siegel II and head coach Brian Kelly also spoke, followed by a unity march through campus.

Prior to his recent work, Hayes has been actively involved in the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend, teaching a twice-weekly class last fall at the Center, working with 4th & 5th graders on how to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. He also served as a leader at team community service events, including Shop With A Player (team members take children from local schools and the Pokagon Band shopping for Christmas presents), Football & The Force (charity softball game between Notre Dame football and local law enforcement officers), Saint Mary’s College Dance Marathon to benefit Riley Hospital for Children and Roof Sit to prevent child abuse in St. Joseph County.

Other volunteer efforts include: Food Bank of Northern Indiana (weekly in 2018), South Bend Center for the Homeless (weekly 2018-19), Boys & Girls Club of St. Joseph County (weekly in 2018), Facilitator at Notre Dame Summer Bridge Program (2019) helping new freshman student-athletes begin at college, Kindness to Prevent Blindness helping underprivileged youth get eye exams and glasses, Ambassador for Irish Strong mental health initiative for student-athletes, a representative for Fighting Irish Fight for Life program which sees teams adopt children fighting a rare disease, volunteer to read weekly at Studebaker Elementary School (first graders) and mentor at the South Bend Juvenile Detention Center.

Through the 2020 football season, Hayes and the Irish have completed a perfect 10-0 regular season, sealing a berth in the ACC Championship game for the first time in Notre Dame’s one-year history of joining a conference. 

The Notre Dame defense ranks in the top 15 in the FBS in third down defense (2), rushing defense (7), total defense (13) and scoring defense (13). The second-ranked Irish top the ACC in third down defense and scoring defense, ranking second in rushing defense. Notre Dame has held its opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in all but three games in 2020. Of the Top 10 rushers in the ACC, the Irish have faced five–limiting those five running backs to an average of 55.4 yards (277 yards total on 76 carries). 

Hayes himself has totaled 6.0 TFL on the season (including 3.0 sacks), 17 tackles, his first-career interception, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. 

He was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance at Georgia Tech, in which he totaled 2.0 sacks and two forced fumbles, both career-high single-game marks for the graduate student. Both forced fumbles came on the sacks. Only one FBS player has had more forced fumbles in a single game this season than Hayes’ two, and he was the only player in the Power 5 to reach the mark that weekend.

In the win over then-No. 1 Clemson, Hayes showed up big. On Clemson’s final possession of double overtime, Notre Dame’s defense sacked the quarterback on back-to-back plays, as Ade Ogundeji and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah combined for the first sack, and Hayes produced the second sack immediately following. It set Clemson up for third-and-24, and they were unable to convert.