The Memphis Tigers are making the leap to the Big East in 2013 and have a tough road ahead of them as the make the transition up to the big leagues. There are serious questions of depth and physicality for the Tigers as they attempt to keep pace next fall and they will need break out performances from several key positions if they hope to have a shot. One of the most important players to Memphis’ chances of success next year will be senior running back Brandon Hayes, looking to finish out his collegiate career strong.
Hayes finished the 2012 season as the leading rusher for Memphis, running for 576 yards, scoring six touchdowns and averaging 4.88 yards per carry. He led the team despite playing in just nine games and will start 2013 as the starting running back looking to stay healthy for the entire run. If he can, he will be the leader out of the backfield, spear-heading a trio of senior running backs alongside Jai Steeb, who gained 427 yards a year ago in 11 games, and Jerrell Rhodes, who gained 224 yards in just three games.
The running game will have to be strong for Memphis next season as the team tries to hammer out the wrinkles in other areas of the team. Hayes has to step up and stay on the field for the entire season for the running game to really take off next season. If he struggles to stay on the field or run effectively, the entire offense will get bogged down and the whole team will struggle.
Memphis is coming off a strong finish to the 2012 season where they won their final three games and had their best record since 2008. If they hope to keep that momentum going in 2013 in the Big East, Brandon Hayes has to be the man to step up next fall.