Irish defensive end Daelin Hayes begins to break out early in 2019

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Irish defensive end Daelin Hayes came into Notre Dame as a four-star recruit with the expectation of being the next great pass rusher in the Blue and Gold.

Now, Hayes is showing that elite ability.

Despite technically being the "backup," Hayes has seen the field quite often the last two seasons, and he's starting to break out.

In the first two games of the 2019 season, Hayes has recorded one sack and three tackles for a loss. Hayes had five tackles for a loss in all of 2018.

Before the season, Kelly said that Hayes had the best fall camp of his collegiate career and that he was primed for a spectacular 2019 campaign.

"He's a lot more focused," Kelly said. "I wouldn't say that he was distracted at times, but maybe he was more interested in the net outcome. He's so much more focused on details. It is a much more focused player, driven by the fact that maybe he's been overshadowed a little bit and he's playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and that's a good thing."

Hayes says he's been locked in this year to make a difference consistently, and it's already showing two games into the season. Hayes says a lot of his success is due in part to improving his mental game.

"Just finding the right way to keep things in perspective has been huge for me and just being able to focus on what I need to do to help the team and make sure I can do that to the best of my ability," Hayes said. "Just focusing on the small things, the details of the game and staying in the best mental space that I can maintain."

Hayes and the Irish have a big-time test in front of them. This Saturday, Notre Dame heads on down to Georgia to take on the Bulldogs in a Top 10 showdown.

Kickoff for that game is at 8 p.m. on CBS.