Walking on to a team requires hard work and dedication. Players join the team not knowing whether or not they if they will be granted a scholarship throughout their years of eligibility. They do not reap the benefits of what a scholarship athlete receives, and they are often overlooked. In addition to the stress of performing on the field, they have to take on the responsibility of their own expenses in the classroom as well. However these athletes have put in the work and some of them have earned scholarships during their time at Memphis. These student-athletes in particular have had great success throughout their careers and have exemplified what is it means to be a true Tiger.
In the spring of 2010, Hayes joined the Tigers’ football program as a walk-on. However, that was fleeting as Hayes suffered a torn ACL that put him out for the rest of the season. With back-to-back injuries, nothing seemed to be going his way and he contemplated giving up football for good. After missing two years of playing time and rehabbing his knee, he transferred to Scottsdale Community College in Arizona in the spring of 2011, where he had a solid spring performance. Following the 2011 season in Arizona, he was given an opportunity and returned to Memphis in 2012 and worked his way into the Tigers’ lineup. Upon his return to the UofM, he was seventh on the depth chart; by the fourth game, he was starting, and by the end of the season, he was voted DeAngelo Williams Most Valuable Player by his teammates.
Career: After leading the Tigers with 860 rushing yards in 2013, had a waiver for a sixth year of eligibility approved by the NCAA in January of 2014 … Would return as a post-graduate student to play in Memphis\’ 2014 American Athletic Conference title season … Played a significant role in the Tigers\’ seven-game win streak to end the season which resulted the school\’s first conference title since 1971 and just the program\’s second, 10-win season … The 2014 season marked Memphis\’ first, 10-win season since 1938 … The Tigers capped the season with a 55-48, double-overtime win over BYU at the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl … Originally came to Memphis as a walk-on, joining the team during the 2010 spring practice season …Left the program to play at Scottsdale Community College in 2011 … Returned to the University of Memphis following the 2011 season in Arizona and worked his way into the Tigers\’ lineup … Over a three-season career at Memphis rushed for 2,385 yards and 16 touchdowns … One of only four players in school history to have over 500 rushing attempts (515) … Finished career ranked fourth in career rushing yards … Six, 100-yard rushing games tied for fifth all-time … Over course of career caught 47 passes for 275 yards and five touchdowns … Ranks sixth all-time in touchdowns with 21 … Scored 126 points during career … 2,670 career all-purpose yards ranks 10th all-time at Memphis.
2014 (Senior): Led Memphis with 949 rushing yards, eighth-most in school history … While yards ranked third in the American Athletic Conference, 79.1 yards per game ranked fourth in the league … Ranked third on the Memphis team with eight touchdowns — five rushing touchdowns and three receiving …Also caught 16 passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns … Against then, No. 11 UCLA had a career-high five catches for 48 yards along with nine carries for 48 yards … Took a catch 18 yards for a second-quarter touchdown … Early in the quarter caught another 18-yard pass to help set up a score that put the Tigers in front 14-13 … Ran for 99 yards on 21 carries in the Tigers\’ 36-17 win over Middle Tennessee … Had another 99-yard rushing game at SMU … Blasted through the line for a 36-yard touchdown run that put the Tigers up 28-7 late in the first half … Rushed for a career-high 199 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers\’ win over Tulsa … In his next home game had 189 yards in win over USF … The 199 rushing yards against Tulsa tied for the 16th most in school history … Yardage total was the most by a Tiger since 2009 when Curtis Steele had 232 yards at Tulsa … Had a career-long, 51-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds to play in the first half to give the Tigers their first lead against the Golden Hurricane … The 51-yard touchdown run was the second career TD run of 40 yards … The run was the second-longest play from scrimmage by a Tiger … Was named to the American\’s Honor Roll following performance against USF … Helped Memphis claim American Athletic Conference title with a 60-yard rushing effort on 17 carries against UConn in final regular-season game of the season … Conference championship was the team\’s first since 1971 … Ran for 49 yards on 22 carries in the Tigers\’ Miami Beach Bowl, double-overtime victory over BYU … With win over BYU, Memphis notched its second, 10-win season and first since 1938 … Memphis closed out the season with a seven-game winning streak and the team\’s seven-win improvement tied for the ninth-best turnaround in FBS football history.
Honors (Academic/Athletic): Named to the American Athletic Conference\’s postseason second team as selected by the league\’s coaches following the 2014 season … For the third straight year was named the Isaac Bruce Offensive Player of the Year following the 2014 season at the Memphis Tiger Football Banquet hosted by the Highland Hundred … At the 2013 awards banquet, received the DeAngelo Williams Most Valuable Player award … In addition, received the Isaac Bruce Offensive Player of the Year Award for the second straight year … Academically, was named to the Tiger 3.0 list for the Fall 2013 semester.
Originally an Alabama commit coming out of high school, Malone switched gears and returned home to play for Memphis. He\’s the soft-spoken guy that made big plays and led by example on the field.
Career: Closed out career with 125 receptions for 1,497 yards and nine touchdowns … At the conclusion of collegiate career his 1,497 receiving yards ranks 11th all-time at Memphis while 125 receptions ranks sixth all-time … Became the Tigers’ fulltime punt returner in 2012 and over the last two years of his career led the American Athletic Conference in punt return average … Memphis’ all-time leader in punt returns with 83 for career while 716 career return yards is fourth all-time by a Tiger … For career, averaged 8.6 yards per return … Finished career ranked second among active NCAA FBS players through the 2014 season in punt returns … Also ranked sixth in punt return yards among active NCAA FBS players … Transferred to Memphis from Alabama … Was eligible to play immediately for Memphis and suited up for the Tigers in 2011 … Played in 45 career games, starting 13 contests.
2014 (Senior): Led the American Athletic Conference champions in receiving yards with 555 yards, catching 45 passes including four for scores … The 45 receptions ranked second on the 2014 squad … Led the American with a 7.7 punt return average … Had a 34 punt returns for 261 yards … The 34 returns is the sixth-most in a season by a Tiger while the 261 yards ties for eighth-most … Member of the Tigers’ first conference championship team since 1971 and played a significant role, especially at season’s end, as the Tigers closed out the year with seven straight victories including a double-overtime win in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl … Season’s 45 receptions ranks tied for 18th all-time … Through nonconference play (four games), caught 19 passes for 258 yards … Had six receptions for 67 yards at then, No. 11 UCLA … With Memphis trailing 28-14 and starting a second-quarter drive at its own 15, caught a 30-yard pass to move the ball to near midfield and spark a touchdown drive to pull the Tigers to within a score by halftime … Also had an eight-yard catch prior to a 40-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter … In addition to catching six passes for a season-high 76 yards in a win over Middle Tennessee , had an 18-yard punt return to the MTSU 40 to set up a second-quarter touchdown drive to give Memphis a 19-7 lead … Led the Tigers with four catches for 59 yards including a 42-yarder at Ole Miss … The 42-yard catch ranked as the sixth-longest reception of the season and gave him at least one 40 yard catch in all four of his seasons at Memphis … During the Ole Miss game became the 12th Memphis player to catch 100 passes in a career … Helped the Tigers start a seven-game win streak to end the season, catching a pass for 11 yards and running for 13 yards on a rushing attempt … The 11-yard reception began the Tigers’ first touchdown drive of the game late in the first quarter … Caught at least three passes in the Tigers’ last five games of the season … In win over Connecticut to capture the American Athletic Conference title, caught a season-high seven passes for 70 yards against Connecticut … Went the first 11 games of the 2014 season without a touchdown catch … Caught two passes for scores against UConn … TD receptions of six and nine yards stretched a 6-0, first-quarter Tiger lead to 20-3 midway through the third quarter … Had a season-high 135 all-purpose yards in the Tigers’ Miami Beach Bowl victory over BYU … Caught six passes for 75 yards and had two touchdown receptions for the second straight game … Also had two runs for 41 yards … Capped the Tigers’ first offensive series with a 33-yard touchdown catch … A career-long 38 yard run later in the first quarter set up a field goal that gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead … Helped tie the game when he hauled in a five-yard touchdown reception on a fourth-down play with 45 seconds to play in regulation … Sustained the game-tying drive with a 19-yard catch with the Tigers facing fourth-and-seven from the BYU 30.
Honors (Academic/Athletic): Named second-team all-conference following 2014 season by the American Athletic Conference’s head coaches … Also second-team all-conference punt returner as selected by Phil Steele College Football Preview … Prior to the 2013 season was a preseason Second-Team Special pick for the American Athletic Conference, as named by Phil Steele\’s College Football Preview and Athlon Sports\’ College Football … Named to the Phil Steele Postseason All-Conference USA Second Team as a punt returner following sophomore season in 2012.
A recent graduate from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor’s of Business degree in Management, Frazier has caught 65 passes for 802 yards and four touchdowns the last two seasons. He originally walked on to the Memphis program after transferring from Arkansas-Pine Bluff and was a practice player during head coach Justin Fuente’s first season at Memphis in 2012.
2014 (Junior): Memphis’ leading receiver in terms of catches in 2014 with 47 for 506 yards … Caught three touchdown passes during the season … Had at least one catch in all 13 games … Started seven games during the season … Caught four passes for 55 yards including first touchdown reception of the season in 63-0 win over Austin Peay … Had an 18-yard catch on the Tigers’ first offensive series of the season … Capped Memphis’ first offensive series of the second half with a 17-yard touchdown reception from Paxton Lynch … Second start of the season came in the Tigers’ 41-14 road win at Cincinnati to open American Athletic Conference play … Had a 33-yard run to set up a Jake Elliott field goal to give the Tigers a 17-7, first-quarter lead … Also had a 16-yard pass reception in the game … Had eight receptions for 110 yards, both career highs, in the Tigers’ 16-13 win at Temple … Victory was the Tigers’ sixth of the season, making the program bowl eligible for the first time since 2008 … Trailing 10-3 in the second quarter, caught a 42-yard pass from Lynch to set up a game-tying touchdown run before halftime … With the score tied at 13-13 with less than three minutes to play, began the game-winning drive from the Memphis 20 with a 16-yard reception sparking a scoring drive that resulted in a 31-yard Elliott field goal as time expired in Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field … Caught five passes for 59 yards in road win at Tulane … Caught a 38-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 17-0 lead against the Green Wave … Notched back-to-back games with touchdown catches, hooking up with Lynch for a 42-yard touchdown play to give Memphis a 21-10, second-quarter lead in the USF game … Three receptions for 82 yards against the Bulls … Helped the Tigers earn the program’s first conference title since 1971 with a performance against UConn which included five catches for 16 yards and a 12-yard run which was part of a third-quarter touchdown drive that put the Tigers out in front, 20-3 … In the Miami Beach Bowl victory against BYU helped put the Tigers out in front early, 14-7, with receptions of four and 16 yards on one first-quarter scoring series … All four pass receptions (31 yards) as well as a one-yard run were part of scoring drives as the Tigers scored 55 points, the most in a bowl game by a Memphis team.
Honors (Academic/Athletic): Career-high eight-catch, 110-yard receiving night in win at Temple to get the Tigers’ bowl eligible earned American Athletic Conference Honor Roll recognition … Named to the inaugural American Athletic Conference All-Academic Football Team following the 2013 season … Earned Tiger 3.0 Club list recognition for five semesters during his career – Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014 and Spring 2017 semesters … Named to the Conference USA Commissioner\’s Honor Roll for the 2012-13 academic year.
Cross is entering into his senior season having caught more touchdown passes than any other tight end in school history (11). The former walk-on has now caught 65 career passes for 821 yards. He has averaged 12.6 yards per reception, played in all 13 games as a junior and has now appeared in 36 career games. He has started 30 career games including 21 over the past two seasons.
2014 (Junior): Co-leader on American Athletic Conference championship team with four touchdown receptions, finishing the year with 28 catches for 373 yards … Accounted for two of the three-longest pass plays of the year for the Tigers … Played in all 13 games and performance during the 2014 season led to being named to the American Athletic Conference All-Conference First Team as selected by the league’s coaches …. Began the year by catching four passes for 48 yards in the Tigers’ 63-0 shutout of Austin Peay … Caught a nine-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to establish a new career receiving record for tight ends … At the point in his career, had eight touchdown receptions passing Billy Kendall (1997-2000) for the all-time lead … Had two receptions for 57 yards, scoring on both catches for the Tigers in a 36-17 win over Middle Tennessee … Capped Memphis’ opening series with a seven-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Paxton Lynch … In the fourth quarter, caught a career-long, 50-yard pass for a touchdown and extend the Tigers’ lead to 29-10 … Two touchdown game marked second time to have multiple TD receptions in a game, the first coming against Southern Miss freshman year … Equaled a career high with four receptions for 38 yards against Houston … Only career rushing play came against SMU, scoring on a one-yard run that gave Memphis a 21-0, second-quarter lead … Also had two catches for 28 yards against the Mustangs as Memphis began a seven-game winning streak … Caught three passes for 35 yards including a long 18-yarder in which he leaped a defender … Against Temple, had two receptions for just four yards but plays were following by scoring plays in the defensive battle as the Tigers became bowl eligible for the first time since 2008 … Among two receptions for 21 yards against USF, had an 18-yard catch late in the first half to set up a Tiger touchdown which put Memphis out in front, 14-3 … In the Tigers’ Miami Beach Bowl victory, had three catches for 69 yards … Had a 47-yard catch in the first quarter of the bowl game and caught a 17-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter which put the Tigers out in front 38-28.
Honors (Academic/Athletic): First Team All-Conference selection by the American Athletic Conference’s head coaches following stellar junior season in 2014 when he led the Tigers to an American Athletic Conference title and a record-tying, 10-win season … Named to the inaugural American Athletic Conference All-Academic Football Team following the 2014 season … Named to the Tiger 3.0 list for the 2011 Fall, 2012 Spring, 2012 Fall, 2013 Fall, 2014 Spring and 2014 Fall semesters (six total semesters) … First-team pick on the 2013 preseason All-American Athletic Conference team selected by Athlon Sports … Selected to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team in 2012 … Received the 2011 Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year Award at the team\’s postseason Highland Hundred Awards Banquet.
Getting ready for next season, Memphis has great expectations for a few Tigers in particular.
Jones is a fifth year player, who with having played one game as a true freshman in 2011 has seen action in 38 games over his career. In terms of games played, he is the most experienced player on the Memphis team having played every game over the last three years. He has started 18 career games including 10 last year as a junior. Over a three-plus year career, Jones has caught 68 passes for 899 yards and five touchdowns. He has averaged 13.2 yards per catch for the Tigers. He is also a special teams standout who has four total tackles and a blocked punt during his playing career.
2014 (Junior): Ranked third on the Memphis team in both receptions and receiving yards … Caught 33 passes for 442 yards including three receptions for touchdowns … Also had one tackle and blocked a punt during the year … Played in all 13 games, starting 10 contests … Started all eight American Athletic Conference games as the Tigers captured the program’s first league title since 1971 … Had at least one reception in every regular season game played … Caught four passes for 31 yards in the Tigers’ season-opening, 63-0 win over Austin Peay … The 63 points in the victory marked the fourth-most points scored by a Memphis team … Against No. 11 UCLA in the Rose Bowl, caught three passes for 74 yarders … Caught a season-best, 33-yard pass to help set up a touchdown that cut a Bruins’ second-quarter lead to 28-21 … Began American play by catching a total of 16 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ first three league games … In the conference-opening win at Cincinnati caught five passes for 70 yards … Nine-yard touchdown strike from Paxton Lynch on the Tigers’ first offensive series of the game tied the game at 7-7 … Also had back-to-back receptions of 17 and 12 yards early in the second quarter of another scoring drive … The 17-yard reception came with the Tigers facing third-and-five from the Cincinnati 42 … Scored Memphis’ first points of the Houston game with the second of two, 18-yard receptions … Finished the Houston game with a career-high six receptions for 72 yards and the score … Caught five passes for 70 yards in the SMU victory as Memphis began a seven-game win streak to end the season … Caught two passes for 34 yards in homecoming win over Tulsa … In addition to catching two passes for 18 yards, blocked a Temple punt in the second quarter … With the block, Memphis took possession at the Temple 31 and would later kick a field goal for the Tigers’ first points in the defensive battle … Caught a 12-yard pass down to the Temple 31 on the Tigers’ game-winning drive in Philadelphia … Caught two passes for 52 yards including a 30-yarder at Tulane … Gave Memphis a 27-3 lead in the third quarter with a 12-yard touchdown reception in the Tigers’ victory over UConn to claim an American Athletic Conference title … … Played in Memphis’ first bowl game since 2008 as the Tigers culminated the season with a victory in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl.
Honors (Academic/Athletic): Earned Tiger 3.0 list recognition for the Spring 2012 and Fall 2012 semesters.
There were high aspirations for the wide receiver heading into the 2014 season, but a preseason injury sidelined the local product for what would have been his redshirt freshman season. At the conclusion of redshirt freshman season in 2013, Miller was named the recipient of the Glenn Jones Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year Award at the Tigers’ postseason awards banquet.
Mayhue had a standout rookie season with the Tigers, recording 13 receptions for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He earned his first starting spot for the Middle Tennessee game. The walk-on had two catches for 96 yards in the Tigers’ win at SMU to start the six-game win streak. He actually started the win streak’s scoring, hauling in a 54-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of the SMU game.
2014 (Freshman): Caught 15 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns while playing in 13 games as a walk-on, true freshman … 242 receiving yards ranks sixth among Memphis’ receivers … Among Memphis players with multiple receptions in 2014, averaged a team-leading 16.1 yards per catch … Caught three passes for 25 yards in home win over Middle Tennessee State with first career reception being a six-yarder from Paxton Lynch in the first quarter of the game … Had two catches for 38 yards against Houston including a career-long, 25 yarder … First career touchdown reception was a 54-yard strike at SMU for the Tigers’ first points in a 48-10 victory … Caught two passes in the SMU game, adding a 42-yarder in the first quarter to set up Memphis’ third score … Victory in Dallas began a seven-game win streak to end the season for Memphis … Caught two passes for 11 yards in road win at Temple as the Tigers became bowl eligible for the first time since 2008 … Against USF, hauled in a 16-yard pass to set up an 11-yard touchdown reception by Brandon Hayes to give the Tigers a 28-13 lead over the Bulls in the third quarter … Matched a career high for receptions with three and had 33 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ 41-10 win over UConn to clinch an American Athletic Conference title, the Tigers’ first league championship since 1971 … In the second quarter with Memphis leading 6-0, converted a third-and-two play with a six-yard reception to the UConn 21 … The Tigers would score their first touchdown of the game four plays after the third-down conversion … Also snared a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter as the Tigers stretched out a 34-3 lead … Had two pass receptions for 23 yards in Memphis’ victory at the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl … With Memphis trailing 28-24 after halftime, had a key third-down catch on third-and-three from the Memphis 48 … An 11-yard catch during the first series of the second half would lead to a Memphis touchdown which put the Tigers back out in front 31-28.
Honors (Academic/Athletic): Earned Tiger 3.0 list recognition for the Spring 2015 semester.
Smith played in all 12 games as a freshman punter for the Tigers. He was called into action 53 times over the course of the season and punted for 2,138, an average of 40.3 yards per kick. His 51.0 average per kick against Austin Peay was his best average. He punted nine times against Ole Miss, the most for any punter in the conference, and eight against Tulane. Against SMU, Smith filled in as the place kicker and knocked an extra-point through. He took the ensuing kickoff and forced a touchback.
2014 (Redshirt Freshman): Averaged 40.3 yards per punt as a rookie … Over 58 punts, recorded nine of 50 yards and booted 18 inside opponents’ 20-yard line … Only one touchback during the season … Helped Memphis ran fourth nationally in punt return defense as opponents averaged just 2.77 yards on 13 returns … Memphis’ net punting average of 37.97 yards ranked third in the American and 49th nationally … First career punt was only touchback of the season as he booted first kick 47 yards and into the end zone on the final play of the first half of the Austin Peay game … Would also have a 55-yard punt in the season opener for a 51.0 average … Placed four of seven punts inside No. 11 UCLA’s 20-yard line … Four punts inside the 20 was a season high as he averaged 39.4 yards per punt against the Bruins … Had a season-high nine punts in the Tigers’ game at Ole Miss and helped with field position by averaging 42.9 yards per punt including two inside the 20 and two of 50 yards … Converted on lone PAT of the season at SMU and only punt of the game was a 46-yarder downed at the Mustang nine … Averaged 46.9 yards per punt at Tulane, pinning the Green Wave inside their own 20 three times … Career-high four punts with for 50 yards against the Wave … First punt against BYU in the Miami Beach Bowl went for 53 yards and an interception on the Cougars’ next play from scrimmage set up a scoring drive that put the Tigers in front 24-14 early in the second quarter.
Honors (Academic/Athletic): Named to American Athletic Conference All-Conference Second Team following 2014 season … Earned honorable mention recognition on Scout.com’s postseason Freshman All-American Team … Earned recognition on the Tiger 3.0 list for both the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters … Named to the American Athletic Conference\’s first All-Academic Football Team.
These eight players are the epitome of what a student-athlete represents and truly play for the love of the game.