The third round of our preview series on Cal’s signing class brings us back to the running back room and Ashton Hayes. Our class of running backs are versatile at its core, and today’s preview will focus on a speed demon from the class in Ashton Hayes.
The Bio and Measurements:
5 feet 11 inches
Mcqueen HS in Reno, NV
What does Hayes bring to the table?
Speed kills. Ashton Hayes has some breathtaking speed once he gets in the open field, it is just a matter of getting there. Think of someone like Daniel Lasco, someone who on his own didn’t necessarily strike the fear of God in you, but once he got loose there was almost no looking back. Lasco and Hayes could look one another in the face and see the same story written about them. Hayes does a great job of bouncing runs to the outside and take things off in a zone stretch/zone read game. Think of the Marcus Arroyo system at his time in Oregon, this is the type of system that Hayes is used to. Hit the holes with relentless aggression, where by the time the defense has recovered from the blocks of linemen he would already be off to the races. You could think of Hayes as a bottled up jitterbug, just waiting to get loose. Cal’s running back room is fairly deep, so unless Hayes has a killer spring and fall, his playing time doesn’t look like it’ll be all that much.
Does the fit work?
With the of Oregon’s old offensive system in mind, I have to question his fit as a runner in this play action, slow developing offense. Going from a zone read game to a rudder type backfield with regards to patience is a difficult task, think of the difference in short yardage procedure from the 2019 to 2020 season for the Cal offense. The main pro I see with Hayes is that he also provides a kick return element, as seen here at the 1:44 mark, where he hits the hole over two different areas of the field, and sets himself up for the kick return TD. I think he needs to be used to a step up in competition despite rushing for over 1,700 yards and also learn to be patient with blocks, where it works against teams like Stanford but blows up in our faces against UCLA. I think he can definitely be used as a return specialist but one would have to worry about his size if he were to get popped on a kick return. Cal has needed speed on this team for quite a while and Hayes certainly brings it, its a matter of the coaching staff harnessing that speed and making use of it.
Tape: Hayes HUDL
Best of luck to Ashton as he starts his Cal career!
Welp he won't have a "killer spring" given he is not enrolled per the recent spring roster released by Cal. I see no reason why he can't adapt his running style into Cal's offense.
If this guy has wheels we can use him in any style of offense. Musgrave will dial up some quick hitters like Dives, Bellys, Off Tackles, Whams and Traps for him. But don't rule him out on slow developing plays as well. Zone reads develop slow on purpose, so the RB can watch the blocking evolve and pick the best lane from the backside C to the frontside A gap (or whatever configuration of ZR they run). If he has quickness and speed then he can be gone as soon as a lane opens up, and if he's used to bouncing to the backside then that's typically the bailout for a ZR. Don't fool yourself into thinking this kid can't be a three down back. If he can find the holes, has the balance and toughness to attack them and the juke and speed to get through, then he'll ball out.