P.J. Fleck and the Gophers staff have not slept in two weeks, picking up their 10 commitment in the span of 14 days. 2023 WR Donielle “Nuke” Hayes was the latest to grab an oar, verbally committing Sunday morning. Hayes, listed at 6-feet, 180 pounds chose Minnesota over top offers from Washington State, Tulane and UAB. The Pensacola, Florida native is the 776th best player in the country according to 247sports and now the first receiver committed to the Gophers’ 2023 class.
Donielle Hayes is more than a terrific nickname. Nuke attends Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Fla. With an enrollment of ~1,600 Pine Forest is one of the bigger high schools in Florida. Last season as a junior, he caught 30 passes for 722 yards and 10 TDs. On top of averaging an insane 24.06 YPC, he was an elite return man with two kick return touchdowns and one punt return touchdown. When he’s not scoring touchdowns, he is also a standout track & field athlete. He broke onto the recruiting scene after collecting four catches for 92 receiving yards and an amazing punt return touchdown in last year’s Florida 6A State Championship. After his junior campaign, the offers came rolling in, until ultimately settling on the Gophers after his official visit this weekend.
Nuke Hayes has the traits of a prototypical power five wide receiver. Listed at 6-feet, 180 pounds he has the size to go along with next-level athleticism. He still has room to develop as a route runner, something that is very common for a player his age. On top of being a fun receiver prospect, Hayes is truly an elite return specialist. With all of the skills he has, I expect him to be a terrific playmaker at the next level.
**High School Football Hudl Highlights:
The Gophers have been able to get plenty of talent within the trenches and on the defensive side of the ball, but this weekend was for the playmakers. After 4-star RB Marquese Williams committed Friday, Nuke Hayes joins him as very exciting skill position prospects. We all know P.J. Fleck’s track record with developing wide receivers and Nuke Hayes is an exciting blank canvas for the Gophers coaching staff to work with. I am honestly a bit surprised that he didn’t receive more recruiting buzz, but he is the type of player that could continue to rise with a big senior year. He is now the fifth-highest ranked recruit to join Minnesota’s 2023 class.
What is next?:
With the addition of Hayes, the 2023 class now has 17 committed players, one short of last year’s total of 18. 247sports ranks the class as 10th best in the country. Hayes and Williams are both high-level three-star recruits, adding to the overall depth of the class. If the Gophers are able to add 4-star targets Jaxon Howard and Anthony Brown, this class truly has a chance to be historic.