The first major shoe to drop for the USC Trojans on the recruiting trail in the Steve Sarkisian fallout came Sunday night after 4-star linebacker Daelin Hayes decommitted from the school.
"At this time my family and I feel that it is in my best interest to decommit from the University of Southern California and open up my recruitment process," Hayes wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account. "I'd like to thank the USC coaching staff for the opportunities that they have placed before me."
This comes after USC athletic director Pat Haden instructed Sarkisian to take a leave of absence, per Lindsey Thiry of the Los Angeles Times. Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News provided updates on the situation on his Twitter account, outlining a number of instances during which players or coaches believed Sarkisian to be inebriated.
According to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, offensive coordinator Clay Helton will assume head-coaching duties on an interim basis, but that will do little to ease the doubt of recruits like Hayes. As ESPN.com's Arash Markazi tweeted, opposing coaches will do everything they can to capitalize on the cloud hanging over USC:
Should the Trojans lose Hayes, it would be a massive blow to their 2016 recruiting class. Hayes is the No. 9 outside linebacker and No. 105 player overall in 247Sports' composite rankings.
Wolf noted USC had big plans for Hayes, as it wanted to give him the No. 55 jersey, which was worn by Junior Seau and Willie McGinest in the past.
ESPN.com's Tom VanHaaren also highlighted a potential ramification for the Trojans if Hayes signs with another school:
Of course, Hayes could decide to stick with USC even after he opens up his recruiting again. But Notre Dame and Michigan finished first and second in 247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions for the talented linebacker.
Rivals.com's Josh Helmholdt reported the Fighting Irish might now be in pole position to get Hayes' commitment, while you can be sure Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh will do everything in his power to secure one of the best players in the state of Michigan.
Note: Player star ratings are courtesy of 247Sports.