Michigan Panthers Lose Wes Hills, Re-Sign Toa Taua

Michigan Panthers Lose Wes Hills, Re-Sign Toa Taua

The Michigan Panthers can’t catch a break when it comes to injuries. Wes Hills, one of their star running backs this season, is now out for the season after going down early against the Memphis Showboats. He will be replaced by Toa Taua, who is re-signing with the team this week.

Wes Hills will be tremendously missed by Marcel Bellefeuille in his offense. Hills came over to Michigan during the Dispersal Draft process, formerly with the New Orleans Breakers. He led the USFL with 680 rushing yards in 2023, alongside 10 rushing touchdowns.

After joining the Panthers, Wes has been an outstanding one-two punch with Matt Colburn. Hills has typically been used as RB1, but the two have worked with each other quite well in the backfield, splitting reps.

In 2024, Hills posted 277 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He had his “breakout game” in week five against the Showboats, totaling three rushing scores against his former coaching staff.

He’s played 212 snaps this year – and won’t be easy to replace. Hills has been diagnosed with a quad-related injury, which will unfortunately end his season. We’re told that he will not be available for their postseason run.

Toa Taua Re-Signed

In response, the Michigan Panthers have re-signed Toa Taua, who has had a couple of stints with Michigan already. He was originally signed during the 2023 season, but didn’t see the field that year.

Toa was with Michigan during Training Camp, but was released. Taua played his college football at Nevada, putting up some impressive numbers with 3,997 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns across his five year career there. He also proved himself coming out of the backfield, with over 1,100 receiving yards and four receiving scores.

Toa Taua was with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to signing with the Panthers last year. While he hasn’t seen the field yet in spring football, Taua is familiar with Michigan’s system, which is a major plus given the timing of this transaction.

De’Gabriel Floyd Released

The Michigan Panthers released linebacker De’Gabriel Floyd, who had an up and down season with the team. Floyd was an offseason addition, and made it onto the regular season roster.

De’Gabriel was primarily used on special teams, seeing action in weeks three and eight this year. He was injured for a stretch after being used as a kicker returner.

With DB KiAnte Hardin coming back from the injured reserve list, it seems that Floyd has been cut in order for Hardin to return.

Final Thoughts

The Michigan Panthers are 6-2, winning four straight despite all of the injuries they’ve dealt with. Head Coach Mike Nolan has done an excellent job with his staff of weathering the storm, as they prepare for their postseason matchup against Birmingham.

While losing Hills is a difficult pill to swallow, Michigan has depth. Matt Colburn has been fantastic this year, with 387 rushing yards (3rd) and four touchdowns (T-5th).

Running Backs coach Jordan Pavlisin has this Panthers unit operating like a well oiled machine, and should still see success with Nate McCrary and Toa Taua moving forward. Expect Colburn to garner the bulk of the carries in the backfield over the coming weeks.

What are your thoughts on Wes Hills being done for the season? Will Toa Taua see minutes this year? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!