TOM III to debut before Tigers vs. UCF game
U of M notebook
Before the University of Memphis plays host to UCF Saturday at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, TOM III will be introduced as the third Bengal Tiger mascot for the athletic program.
TOM III, born Aug. 31, was donated by the Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue & Educational Center in Rock Springs, Wis., and arrived in Memphis Oct. 23. Big Cat Rescue founders Jeff Kozlowski and Jenny Meyer contacted the Highland Hundred Tiger Guard upon learning of TOM II’s death last month to offer one of three new Tiger cubs following an unexpected pregnancy. TOM II had served as the team mascot since 1991.
Scott Forman, who will be Tiger Guard Chairman for TOM III, said the Memphis group was ”fortunate to find this little guy so quickly.” The Tiger Guard will assume all costs associated with maintaining TOM III. No U of M funds will be used.
Tiger junior college transfer running back Greg Ray, slowed earlier in the season by a hamstring injury, will work as the team’s No. 3 running back this week behind freshman Brandon Ross and junior Brandon Washington if starter Curtis Steele is unable to play.
Steele, the team’s leading rusher and C-USA’s No. 2 rusher, injured his hamstring in the UofM’s 31-26 victory over SMU Nov. 8 in Dallas and did not participate in practice last week. U of M was idle last weekend.
”I don’t want to play Greg Ray, I have no intentions of playing him and ruining a redshirt year,” Tiger coach Tommy West said. ”But if that’s what we have to do, if something crazy happens, that’s what we’re going to do … I’m going to do what I’ve got to do to win this game.”
Ray has been on the scout team since recovering from a hamstring injury that limited him during the preseason. Ray, 5-10 and 205 pounds, transferred to Memphis from El Camino (Calif.) Community College.
West said while the team’s second open date in three weeks allowed the team’s injured players time to heal, he was mixed about having two so close together.
”Open dates are a little bit different at this time of year,” West said. ”These open dates have been really good for us because of injuries, but they’ve also been kind of a negative because we were playing good. What I don’t want is for this to break our momentum because we’ve been playing good.”
Memphis enters Saturday’s game having won five of seven after an 0-3 start.
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