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ASU Football: De'Chavon 'Gump' Hayes brings speed to Sun Devil offense.

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Hayes, Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage will make for a very deep running back position.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder and lightning.

That's how running back De'Chavon Hayes, better known as Gump by his team, described the double-threat that will bring the heat in the running game this season.

"Demario (Richard) can just get in there and run you over and take it all away and I can get in there and just run right past you," Hayes said. "It's like thunder and lightning."

With D.J. Foster switching from running back to slot receiver this year in the wake of Jaelen Strong's departure, both Hayes and Richard – along with 6-foot-3, 220-pound sophomore Kalen Ballage – will be battling for snaps at running back.

Hayes redshirted last season after transferring from Lackawanna College as a sophomore and now is looking to use his versatility to bring another weapon to the team.

"I think I bring a lot of speed to the team," Hayes said. "I can line up at receiver, line up at running back, punt returner and kick returner. I feel like whenever I have the ball in my hands, I can take it all the way."

Both Richard and Ballage have a season under their belt and have worked to help integrate Hayes into the Sun Devil offense.

"Kalen and Demario have definitely been a big part," Hayes said. "Whenever I need something they'll sit me down, they'll break it down, I got this, I got that, so we all just come together and just talk it over and we make sure all of us are doing the right thing, know our alignments and know our plays."

Coach Todd Graham said one of the football program's goals this season is to get the student section more involved on third down. Graham joked that might come with some Gump-personalized additions in the end zone.

"We're going to get the bells on that jumbotron and count up our takeaways, count up our explosive plays, you know third downs, cash down, get our student section to hold up signs but with Gump, we gotta get the stop signs in the end zones, you know make sure he doesn't run into the end zone bleachers because once he breaks he's hitting it," Graham said. "He's just explosive."

Hayes was one of the top running back recruits coming out of junior college and was rated second-best junior college running back prospect in the nation by Rivals.com. Hayes rushed for 788 yards with 11 touchdowns his freshman year and 837 yards with seven touchdowns his sophomore season.

"I've challenged him a lot," Graham said. "We're challenging him everyday and he is something that when you're the best player where you come from you're not used to that and he's responded really well. He can do it all. I like the fact that we got (No. 8 (Foster) and (No.) 1 (Hayes) that are very very similar and can do a lot of the same things."

Hayes has utilized D.J. Foster's changing duties on the team as a tool to learn how to become better at both positions while finding holes for breaking plays.

"I look up to D.J. a lot because he played running back last year and moved to receiver so I try to ask him for details like what I can do to better my game at running back and at receiver and try to come to him for any tips that I need," Hayes said.

While Hayes is new to this team, he brings the age and football experience that could help to be an influential factor on this Sun Devil squad.

"I feel like I definitely could become a leader of this team. I keep getting more excited because I know the season is right around the corner and I've just been waiting to run out of the tunnel to play the first game."

As for the summer interim, Graham said he would continue to challenge Hayes and Hayes will work to increase the credibility of his "Gump" nickname.

Run, Forest. Run.