Who’s Rising from the Ashes for Arkansas State?

Keep an eye open for these Red Wolves who may have slipped off your radar

I remember when Arkansas State brought Omar Bayless to Jonesboro. He came highly touted, and he once executed a flat-footed back flip just because. Even when he was a raw freshman, I expected immediate greatness. He was just too damn good. That was 2015.

And then he kind of vanished. He’d show up on the stat sheet from time to time, sure, but it really wasn’t until his senior season in 2019 when he put up 93 receptions for 1653 yards and 17 TDs did we really get to know Omar Bayless.

College football can be like that. We get excited about a new recruit or a high-profile transfer only to lose them on that massive 85-member roster. Some guys never quite achieve their potential. Others can’t shake injury. Some simply drop out of football.

Some guys, like Bayless, suddenly rise from obscurity’s gray ashes and contribute a verse to this powerful play. The current Red Wolves rosters bears a number of candidates for this role. What follows are just a few.

TW Ayers, rJr, DE

In 2020, Ayers was one of just three players in the nation to record at least one receiving touchdown and one sack. Seemingly a rising star on either side of the ball, Ayers joined Butch Jones at Sun Belt Media Day in 2021, but he never seemed to find a long-lasting role with the defense. Currently listed as a defensive, there are mumblings that the beefed up Ayers could be moving to defensive tackle.

Khyheem Waleed, rSo, WR

As a transfer from Boise State, Waleed arrived to Jonesboro with some hype as a 3-star prospect with big time promise. But the 5’11”, 200-pound receiver was a forgotten man in 2021, seeing only a handful of snaps. Waleed is said be raising eyebrows in fall camp, which is just more good news for a squad still seeking its top dog.

Marcel Murray, rJr, RB

We talk about Murray a ton on this site, mostly because his 2018 freshman season was so intriguing ( 860 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns). Since then, Murray has been up and down with injuries and even made a brief visit to the Portal this offseason. Newcomer Brian Snead and Johnnie Lang are garnering a lot of attention at running back, but this would be a great time for Murray to return to form and seize his destiny.

Christian Hoz, rJr, OL

At 6’5″, 293-pounds, Hoz certainly has size, and he earned a start against Tulsa last season. Offensive line continues to be an unsolved mystery for the Red Wolves, which could open the door for a man of Hoz’s experience.

Reed Tyler, rSr, TE

As a true freshman, Tyler played all 13 games – including five as a starter. The next two seasons, the 6’3″ 250-pound athlete continued to start at tight end most games, and was placed on Phil Steele’s Preseason All Sun Belt Team prior to the start of last season. However, Tyler only started three games and caught four passes in 2021. With all his experience, could this be Reed’s rebound year?

Jaden Harris, LB, rJr

Harris, a 3-star prospect out of Louisiana, started the final six games of the 2021 season at linebacker, collecting 34 total tackles. As of now, senior Kivon Bennett, newcomer Jordan Carmouche and junior Melique Straker look to be competing with Harris at linebacker. Can Harris outshine the competition by building on his solid half season?