Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 5/8/12

Going into the 2012 NFL Draft, the Chargers had a handful of needs.  A few spots down the list was backup/change of pace running back.  The Chargers had the luxury of waiting until their final 7th round (250th overall) of the draft to grab a running back, Edwin Baker, out of Michigan State.  The job will not be handed to Baker though.  Curtis Brinkley is already on the roster and showed great promise in his limited touches last season.  That brings us to the third and final name in this race, Michael Hayes, who the Chargers signed as an UDFA very shortly after the final pick of the draft.

Hayes, who played for Houston, is a versatile and productive back coming out of college.  In two seasons, the former Houston Cougar had 288 carries for 1356 yards, a 4.7 ypc average, and 19 TDs.  However, what could be most attractive to the Chargers are his receiving numbers.  Out of the backfield Hayes had 74 receptions for 810 yards, 10.9 ypc average, and 6 TDs.  The Bolts offense has sorely missed the receiving ability both Darren Sproles and Ladainian Tomlinson had out of the backfield.  This could give him an advantage over Baker who only had 15 receptions total in college.

At first glance this picture to the left does not look good for Hayes.  However, if you look up his highlight video on youtube you will see him complete this cartwheel and continue running.  It is this kind of balance, strength, and focus that Hayes is known for.  Despite his size, 5′ 8 1/2″ 199lbs, Hayes is very tough to bring down and is rarely stopped on first contact.  When you combine his relentless attitude with his physical traits, Hayes is a very impressive runner.

I recently had a chance to ask Michael a few questions and he was more than happy to answer them for me.  After hearing his answers to my questions and seeing his very impressive video on youtube, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Michael Hayes very well could be the next “fan favorite” in camp and the preseason for the Chargers.

The Chargers obviously have a need at RB behind Mathews and they miss their jack of all trades Darren Sproles, What similarities do you have with Sproles as far as how you play the Running Back position?

“Ii feel that I can catch out the backfield and very well in open space, then do something with it.  Not just with my quickness, I also like to use my tackle breaking ability.”

What is your biggest strength as a RB?

“My low center of gravity, strength, balance, and toughness.  I’m not the biggest guy but I love running downhill.”

What do you need to improve the most?

“As a football player I always feel I need to work on everything.  But I feel that I can set myself apart by becoming a better blocker and a more willing blocker in the pass game.”

How did you find out the Chargers wanted you?

“From my agent.  I always knew they were interested in me and it was a great situation to go into playing on a great team with a great offense lead by a great quarterback.”

How many other teams were in the mix and why did you pick the Chargers?

“There were about 5 or 6, but I was always set on the Chargers knowing it was a great situation to go into and I was hoping I was going there all along.”

What have you been doing to stay in shape and sharp on football since the season ended?

“Running and working out with running back Bryce Beall who signed with the Dallas Cowboys so it was nice to have another guy around.  And I also worked out with my trainer Derrick Blaylock who also played RB in the NFL.”

Which Chargers player or coach are you most excited to try and learn from in camp?

“I’m just excited to be around everyone.  I cant wait to meet my running back coach and get on the same page with him.”

I’m predicting you’ll be a “fan favorite” in no time, so with that do you have a nickname already? If so what is it? If not, any ideas?

“No sir, I don’t have any ideas.  I’ve always been called Michael or Mike but any nicknames are welcome”

With acrobatic abilities like this, what Nicknames do you suggest?  Leave a few as comments and I will pass them along.  Let’s see if we can find one Mike approves and make it stick!  You can also follow him on Twitter @michaelhayes_29

You can follow me on twitter @boltfanindenver

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