Notre Dame DL Jay Hayes will pursue graduate transfer

SOUTH BEND, IN – SEPTEMBER 02: Logan Marchi #12 of the Temple Owls tries to evade pressure from Jay Hayes #93 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the third quarter of a game at Notre Dame Stadium on September 2, 2017 in South Bend, Indiana. The Irish won 49-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

A starter on Notre Dame’s 2017 defense is leaving the program.

Jay Hayes, a defensive end, announced on Friday that he will pursue a graduate transfer for his final season of college football. Hayes says he is on track to graduate in May. Once that happens, he will be immediately eligible at his next school.

“I just want to thank the University of Notre Dame for the love and support they’ve poured into me,” Hayes wrote in a message posted on Twitter. “ND is a special place to grow as a man on and off the field. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I’m going to miss the relationships I’ve established along with all the guys on the team. It’s nothing but love for y’all.”

Hayes played sparingly during his first three seasons on campus, including a redshirt year in 2015, before emerging as a starter at strongside defensive end in 2017. In 13 starts, Hayes totaled 27 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery.

Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly addressed Hayes’ transfer after practice on Saturday.

“Jay understands the standards that we have here and he just felt like a change would be better for him,” Kelly said. “We granted him a release to anywhere he wants to play. We gave him the opportunity to come back if he could meet the standards that we set here and he decided to transfer. We love Jay. We wish him the best.”

Kelly also said that Khalid Kareem was slated to start ahead of Hayes entering the 2018 campaign.

“We felt like he had earned the starting position there. Based on his work in the weight room and on the field, he was going to be the starter at that position,” Kelly said.

Hayes seemed to react to Kelly’s comments on Twitter.

Even if Kareem, who had 21 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2017, moved to the top of the depth chart, Hayes certainly would have had a role on the defensive line as a fifth-year senior, so his departure certainly impacts the team’s depth. Behind Kareem, Kelly noted that Adetokunbo Ogundeji has also had a productive spring.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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