Louisville football is going to need players to come in and mesh immediately in 2019. Why graduate transfer Isaiah Hayes is a perfect fit for the Cards.
As Louisville football opens fall camp, the new coaching staff must work on breaking in a new group of freshman and six graduate transfers.
If there’s one newcomer that could be the most important for new head coach Scott Satterfield and his staff, it may be Arizona graduate transfer, Isaiah Hayes.
In a press conference addressing the media prior to Louisville’s first fall practice of 2019, Satterfield gave an update on all players of note who failed to qualify, were suspended, or injured.
Among those names was rising junior safety TreSean Smith who Satterfield says is suspended indefinitely and has not practiced, nor will practice with the team during fall camp.
The loss of Smith, for however long, is an important one for a Louisville football team with very little depth across the board. The Cards were projected to lean heavily upon the promising safety who has recorded 70 tackles, 2 interceptions, and a forced fumble in a reserve role over his first two seasons.
Now, the Cards are left with a big hole in the secondary. Redshirt senior Khane Pass will be the favorite to win a starting spot at one safety spot, while junior Russ Yeast is looking to increase his impact after making the move over from corner. However, after the two likely starters, a lot of snaps are up for grabs.
That’s where the grad transfer Hayes comes into play. The 6’1,” 190-pound Hayes had his career halted by injuries on multiple occasions at Arizona, but he will have two years of eligibility to end his college career on a high note at Louisville.
Hayes is the son of former NFL journeyman Chris Hayes, who spent time with the Packers, Jets, and Patriots.
Hayes began his career with an impressive freshman season, recording 38 tackles and a sack in 11 games played. After sitting out his entire sophomore season with a shoulder injury, he was primed to become a starter on Arizona’s defense in 2018. He began last season with a career-high 13 tackles and was well on his way to the career that many around the program anticipated. However, an injury in only his third game of the season sidelined him for the rest of his career in Arizona.
Now, after graduating in three years in Tucson, he has an opportunity to reset his career with a team that is in desperate need of leadership and play-making.
With Smith out, a path is being paved for Hayes to become a key player from game one in Louisville, with the opportunity to cement himself into the starting lineup for the next two years.
Coaches describe Hayes as an intelligent player with a great football IQ and skill set. He is a perfect fit for the new Louisville coaching staff because he likes to fly to the ball. In Arizona, the staff planned to use him at corner in a pinch, and he can cover over the top as well as he can get into the backfield and make a big hit.
There’s nothing too flashy about Hayes’s game, but his gang tackling mentality will be a welcome sight for Louisville fans after a season where broken plays and poor tackling led to opposing teams running up the score repeatedly.
The potential loss of TreSean Smith hurts, but the addition of Isaiah Hayes could be one of the biggest positives for Louisville football in 2019.