Position: Running Back
Weight: 185 pounds
2014 season quick review: Hayes signed with ASU in the 2014 class out of the junior college ranks but wasn’t able to play in games last year due to an academic eligibility ruling that essentially made the year a forced redshirt. He practiced with the team fully after missing most of camp in August and then was arguably the team’s most impressive scout team performer on the offensive side of the football in December bowl practices.
Running back coach Bo Graham’s recent assessment: “Gump is competitive and special athletically too. Gump is a lot like (senior) D.J. (Foster), so now you move D.J. out (from running back to wide receiver), you've got Gump in that slot role (in two-back formations), you can move guys around and have all this versatility.”
“Gump surprised me in bowl practices because even though he is smaller he has some pop and can run inside the box. Usually the fast guys don't collision [as well] but he's from up in the Northeast and he's tough and he'll collision you. He's tough. He doesn't get his hips turned as much as some of the other guys. He's about 185 (pounds), trying to get to 190, looks great, I think that (redshirt) year was really big for him. D.J. moving out, him moving in, a year of development, it was great for him and us, and he can do it all. He might be pretty special.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Hayes is unquestionably one of the top athletes on the Sun Devil roster with remarkable foot quickness and a top end gear that is perhaps only rivaled by wide receiver Cameron Smith on the offensive side of the ball. A very versatile offensive skill piece, Hayes is like D.J. Foster in that he can play in the backfield or in the slot role in two-back formations that employ one of the backs ostensibly as a receiver. In fact, Foster’s transition to wide receiver is largely enabled by the presence of Hayes on the roster coupled with the potency of Demario Richard at tailback and capability of Kalen Ballage behind him.
Watching Hayes in bowl practices in December, he is a natural and fluid route runner who gains leverage easily due to his ability to laterally separate from defenders and/or accelerate at a blurring pace off the line of scrimmage. He combines that with seemingly effortless playmaking ability as a pass catcher even on vertical shots due to quiet body mechanics at the ball’s arrival and soft hands. When lined up in the backfield, Hayes runs the ball with more presence than would be expected given the type of physique he has. He’s tougher to bring down than he looks, and has a suddenness that allows him to get on linebackers quickly enough to stress them into preemptive mistakes. There is a game-breaking component to Hayes that will be well received by ASU fans. His primary tasks through the off-season and into fall camp in order to maximize his playing opportunity are continuing to get stronger and more fluent in the team’s offensive concepts, as well as develop as a blocker and fully embrace that part of the position.
Projected depth chart status: Hayes is likely to be ASU’s starter in two-back formations that incorporate a slot receiver and his versatility will make him especially valuable with how ASU likes to change offensive looks without substituting. He’ll likely be more of a receiving threat than a rusher early in his career, with ASU having as a goal getting him in open space with the ball in his hand in order to create more explosive play potential.