MOBILE, Ala. — Daelin Hayes looked more like “Bullet Bob” Hayes.
The Notre Dame end was the defensive star of the day Wednesday at the second Senior Bowl practice for the National team, consistently making life miserable for the left tackles and quarterbacks.
Hayes capped his session with a bully bull rush past Oklahoma’s Adrian Ealy before bumping Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks and knocking the ball loose for a strip sack. Had it been a game, Hayes would have croaked Franks.
He acknowledged having a defensive-minded coach in charge of practice — the Dolphins’ Brian Flores is coaching the National team — provided a liberating feeling that wasn’t the case in South Bend.
“I’m enjoying, man. Coach [Brian] Kelly is more of an offensive guy, right? So it’s cool to be out there with a defensive-minded head coach. The vibe is a little bit different. You accidentally hit the quarterback and it’s like, all right, all right. Coach Kelly might have bust a vein, man,’' Hayes said, laughing. “But it’s been cool. I’m really enjoying myself.’'
That much has been pretty clear through two days here.
As his meeting with reporters was wrapping up, he noticed a phone pointed at him.
“You taking a picture, bro?,’' Hayes asked. “You mind if I smile?”
And then, in a flash, naturally, he produced one.
Observations from National team practice:
▪ Arizona State receiver Frank Darby was the offensive standout, making several outstanding catches. He showed great separation skills on back-to-back deep touchdown passes, first from Notre Dame’s Ian Book and then Texas’s Sam Ehlinger. Flores recognized Darby at the end of the session, much to the delight of his teammates.
▪ South Dakota State’s Cade Johnson had the play of the practice, making a sweet one-handed grab along the sideline despite tight coverage from Oklahoma corner Tre Brown.
▪ Washington corner Keith Taylor Jr. flat blasted Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace after a catch. It was a no-tackle practice, and it didn’t sit well with Wallace, who stared down Taylor after he popped up. Coaches didn’t seem to have a problem with it.
▪ UCLA receiver Demetric Felton had several nice catches and put Oregon’s Thomas Graham Jr. in a blender on play, leaving the corner twisting in the Gulf Coast winds as he steamed to the end zone.
▪ One-on-one crime: Book hit Western Michigan receiver D’Wayne Eskridge (wearing No. 1) on a deep touchdown with Michigan’s Ambry Thomas in coverage.
▪ Mississippi tight end Kenny Yeboah bounced back with a nice practice, showing good speed and reliable hands.
▪ Another strong day for North Carolina back Michael Carter — he’s fast and has really nice hands. Ditto for Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert. Both could be three-down backs at the next level.
▪ There’s always a small school diamond in the rough that shines in Mobile (think Kyle Dugger) and Wisconsin-Whitewater center Quinn Meinerz is the leader in the clubhouse. The 6-foot-3-inch, 320-pounder with the long, flowing locks and crop top, has been tossing men around with regularity.
Observations from American team practice:
▪ Alabama’s Mac Jones opened the session with a deep touchdown to Tre’ McKitty and closed the day with his best throw, a dime to the Georgia tight end despite tight coverage. Jones has been the most accurate passer on either team through two days.
▪ The Gulf winds picked up considerably late in the day and it particularly affected the punt returners. Clemson’s Amari Rodgers was nonplussed, fielding all his chances flawlessly.
▪ LSU linebacker Jabril Cox blasted Florida’s Kadarius Toney after catch at the second level. Cox then threw his arms up as if to say, “I didn’t do anything.” He did something.
▪ Former Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman threw back-to-back picks late in the day, the second one to Georgia’s Mark Webb. Newman, coincidentally, transferred to Georgia under much fanfare last year but then opted out of the season, so he never played for the Bulldogs.
▪ Syracuse corner Ifeatu Melifonwu — the brother of former Patriots safety Obi — had a nice pass break-up of a Jones pass intended for the guy with best name here: LSU’s Racey McMath. His name gives chills to anyone remembering the days of memorizing the times tables.
Saban checks in
Alabama coach Nick Saban, who has 77 players here (OK, it’s just 7) dropped in for a visit. He spent time at the morning session with running back Najee Harris and National/Dolphins coach Flores … Song of the day: “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent. Perhaps because the aforementioned Meinerz has the same hair as the rock legend … Unlike Tuesday, both sessions were held in full pads and with referees on hand, including three female crew members. Flags were flying frequently. Also, disagreeing heads were shaking frequently.