Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Thoughts on Countess and Hayes Transfers
It has been known for a while that running back Justice Hayes would transfer, although the destination was unknown; he's now planning to play for Southern Miss. Blake Countess somewhat abruptly announced a transfer not long ago, and yesterday he told the world that he would be ending up at Auburn.
Countess is headed to Auburn, which has a depleted secondary that might become even more depleted in the coming weeks. Jonathon Mincy graduated and got a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons. Jonathan Jones, meanwhile, made 6 picks last season and despite suffering a minor injury this spring, he will be one of the Tigers' starting corners this fall. On the other side, Joshua Holsey is a senior who started seven games last fall, making 41 tackles and 2 pass breakups. He will probably be Countess's primary competition to start, since no other returning players saw much action. Otherwise, Auburn is bringing in several freshmen to compete, including 4-stars Carlton Davis and Javarius Davis. If Countess transferred for playing time reasons (which is partially rumored to be the case, since the coaching staff pursued Wayne Lyons), he's going to have to compete against Holsey and some other talented athletes in the SEC.
In Hayes's case, Southern Mississippi returns its top four running backs from last year. None of them was very accomplished, though. The leading back was then freshman Ito Smith (536 yards, 3.9 yards/carry, 2 touchdowns), while little used freshman Tez Parks and junior Jalen Richard averaged 5.6 and 5.9 yards/carry, respectively. Hayes enters a rather crowded backfield, but Conference USA is weaker competition, and Southern Miss typically survives with 3-star and 2-star recruits. Hayes has decent speed, and while his production was never anything special at Michigan, he should be able to get some playing time in that backfield. He also offers the flexibility to be able to move out into the slot and catch some passes, and he could help on kickoff returns, although the Golden Eagles return senior Michael Thomas, who averaged over 24 yards/return and took one to the house last year.
Neither player is walking into a situation where he will be guaranteed a starting gig, and he won't necessarily be the most talented guy at his position, either. In recent years we have seen players like Josh Furman, Thomas Rawls, and Richard Ash leave Michigan only to flourish elsewhere immediately. It will be interesting to see whether Hayes and Countess continue that trend. Personally, I have always been high on Countess and I think he's better than Holsey - but I also think he's better than Wayne Lyons. Meanwhile, Hayes was uninspiring during his time at Michigan and struggles to run through contact, but he should bring a little speed to the Southern Miss backfield and get a fair chance to shine.