With all but one of the early enrollees already profiled1, my attention turns to profiling the rest of the class in whatever order I feel is appropriate. First up in this new batch is Bryce Haynes, who stands out as one of the most unlikely additions to this recruiting class. This is as much a function of him being a devout Catholic who I had thought would be a Domer as it is a function of him being a long snapper. Haynes, the #1 recruit in the country at his position, is a designated long snapper coming in to a top BCS program on a full ride. He is profiled in the sixth installment of the fourth edition of this now 24-part series titled Better Know A Buckeye.
High School: Pinecrest Academy; Cumming, Georgia
His Recruitment: You may read or hear that, in the NFL, they are underrated positions2 and, though highly unlikely to be drafted high, long snappers can make good career money at the position where NFL regulations protect them from the more violent aspects of the game. While true, they remain specialty positions in college football. Not every program burns a precious scholarship on a place kicker; even fewer (if really any to note) routinely use them on long snappers. Every team needs obviously needs at least one, and they are almost always walk-ons who may earn scholarships later. They are converted centers chasing the dream of major college football.
It thus took me by surprise when we offered Bryce Haynes in a recruiting year we expected to be fairly limited. His offer came in the first week of December, having already been offered by North Carolina, ArKansas and Utah State. So, what made Haynes exceptional when we were expecting a more limited recruiting haul in 2011 and still had other important offers on the board? Simply, Bryce Haynes is that damn good at what he does. He’s beyond safe academically and is devout in his religion. Combine those with Tressel’s established interest in special teams and Bryce Haynes became a guy that Tressel wanted to make room for. It all happened so fast.
The interest from Ohio State has come on rather recently and Haynes has been surprised with how quickly it has moved and how positive it has been.
“I have been talking to the recruiting staff and they contacted my school about a week or two ago and I called them back they told me that they were really interested in me and thought that I had the best tape that they have seen at my position this year,” Haynes said. “They said they were going to talk to coach Jim Tressel and show him my film and said a potential scholarship could be offered. They emailed (Monday night) and then I called them back and coach Tressel said that we have a scholarship to offer you.”
“I think I said, “Holy Cow!”, Haynes joked. “I was kind of surprised and really happy and not expecting it at first. Not sure it would ever happen but I was extremely excited.”
While admitting that he did not know a lot about Ohio State, he knew that they were a big deal.3 While this was all transpiring, one of the coaches on his football team remarked it would be a compelling offer. He had read Tressel’s Winners Manual and liked it, telling Haynes that Tressel seems like a great coach to play for. A visit was scheduled for December 17th.
If it looked like Ohio State would quickly pull ahead of North Carolina, ArKansas and Utah State for Haynes’ LOI, Notre Dame shortly emerged as a serious threat to this outcome. Notre Dame offered shortly after Ohio State did and, unlike Ohio State, Haynes new a great deal about the Irish.
“I was always a big Notre Dame fan when I was younger and I still am,” Haynes said. “I know they’ve struggled the last couple of years, but they’re starting to rebuild quickly. I love Notre Dame. I know it’s a great school. It’s really exciting with the tradition and the history. Everything you hear about Notre Dame, it’s just a huge program.”
Haynes spent the next month deciding where he wanted to go to college, visiting both Ohio State and Notre Dame and finding much to his liking. The details of some of these article are lost so long as Bucknuts decides to withhold all of its content before its move to 247sports.4 I think Haynes was really down to both Ohio State and Notre Dame, though he did say he was also considering the North Carolina offer as well as, yes, Harvard.5 He eventually made his decision on January 28th of this year.
His Commitment: To my surprise, Haynes turned down the offer from the childhood favorite Irish and chose Ohio State, becoming the 22nd commitment in the recruiting class. A late visit from Jim Tressel did the trick.
Once Haynes narrowed his choices to Ohio State and Notre Dame, all signs indicated that he would fulfill his longtime “dream” to become part of the Fighting Irish.
But dreams change.
Two days after Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel flew to Georgia and spent time with Haynes at both his school and home, the long snapper committed to the Buckeyes — surprising even his family with the decision.
“After I could kind of get past letting Notre Dame go, Ohio State just kind of felt like home,” Haynes said.
“I knew I was important to [Ohio State] because they’d offered me, but I didn’t know I was that important for Coach Tressel to come down to Georgia just to see me.”
You’ll want to bookmark that article or save it to PDF. I’ll be returning back to it shortly.
Where He Excels: Position-wise, Bryce Haynes is the best recruit in our recruiting class, and likely in a very long time. That may seem like hyperbole in a recruiting class that also includes Curtis Grant, Doran Grant, the Steve Miller Band, and in past recruiting classes that have had the likes of Mike Adams, Terrelle Pryor and Beanie Wells. It is not, at least when you consider the statement. For a long snapper to be the subject of a recruiting battle between the likes of Ohio State and Notre Dame, said long snapper must be in another stratosphere of long snapper recruits. That’s Bryce Haynes. You might respond with a snide remark about it being “only” a long snapper, but that does not diminish Haynes’ skill set.
Chris Rubio, a former UCLA long snapper and current long snapping coach/instructor for aspiring athletes, became the point man for commentary about Haynes. After all, Rivals and Scout likely don’t have many people on hand that can break down a long snapper. Rubio had this to say about Haynes.
Rubio judges snappers by how quickly they snap the ball back to the punter. Rubio said anything below .80 seconds is considered good. He said Haynes’ snaps are in the .60 range.
“That ball is coming in at over 45 miles per hour,” Rubio said. “I’ve worked with hundreds of kids over the past nine years, and he’s probablywithin the top five of high school kids I’ve ever worked with.”
More is available on a Scout article, the one recruiting service with which I don’t have an account.
An even more telling breakdown is provided by Rubio on Haynes’ profile on Rubio’s website that he shares with a service that coaches aspiring place kickers. Each paragraph concludes with a month and year when Rubio chronicled his observation. Note how it develops.
Bryce is a very, very long athlete that is built for long snapping. Has a ton of potential and got better throughout the day. Love that. Has the ability to snap in the .7s. Needs to work on heightening his form a bit and gaining some lbs. Snapping could be huge for him if he works on it. 12-09
Bryce is an extremely long athlete that has improved immensely over the past year. Jumped from 46 all the way to 12. He could be in top 5 shortly. Ball is very fast, smooth and accurate. Form is exceptional and his balance is superb. Blocking and more weight will be the key to him advancing up the charts and taking his snapping to the next level. 5-10
Bryce has proven to me he is the best long snapper in the country right now. Extremely long and athletic. Ball absolutely flies into your hands. TIGHT spiral and he can block. Also very athletic. The kid has it all. Easily can put on thirty pounds. The kid is legit. No doubt.
Flat out the best in the country. In the top five I have had coming out of high school in the past decade. Simple and to the point. 12-10
He concludes by talking about how it’s rare to find a long snapper who can run. Haynes’ experience as an anchor on his track team helped.
“To find a kid that can snap, block, run, and is smart, that’s like finding a unicorn.”
Long snapping isn’t a sexy position, but we appear to have gotten the best available.
Must Work On: This one is fairly simple. Haynes is very scrawny and needs to get bigger. Per Rubio:
“He’s got shoulders where it looks like his shirt is still on a hanger,” Rubio said. “He’s like one of those big Russian volleyball players, really gangly. But he’s very athletic and runs the anchor on his school’s relay team and he plays basketball. The weight room coach is going to drool over his frame. He’ll easily bulk up.”
Plus, one imagines there’s going to be that “we’re not in Kansas” anymore moment for Haynes. Haynes’ Pinecrest Academy is a small Catholic high school that plays at the lowest level of Georgia football, the tier of football where you can hear the lone cheerleader (we’ll call her Betsy) who is out of sync with the other cheerleaders, and hear your dad turn to your brother and say “Hey Billy, here’s $20, go pick us up some popcorn and sodas. Oh, and make mine a diet and ask your mother if she wants anything else.” I wonder if there would be a shellshock for Haynes out of the gates.
That said, the long snapper has an important advantage over just about every other position player making a transition to college ball. The long snapper starts the play.
Redshirt? Doubt it. Ohio State graduated Jake McQuaide, leaving George Makridis, Garrett Dornbrook and Nick Piening to compete for the position along with Bryce Haynes. If Haynes is already snapping faster than the departed McQuaide, all that remains is for Haynes to add the necessary weight to play. His body won’t be quiet where he would want it to be, but it should be good enough to seize the job. We didn’t offer Bryce Haynes thinking he would be a good project at long snapper. We offered him because we think he’d play right away.
Highlights: 12 minutes of long snapping hawtness. Per commenter Ron, he looks like he’s firing arrows back to the punter. Ben Buchanan may need to adjust.
- When he was considering North Carolina, he had plans to enroll in January. He did not do so for Ohio State, though I don’t know why.
- Haynes has a 1350 on the two-part SAT, and hence why he got a late invite from Harvard. He will be coming to Ohio State on a full athletic scholarship and in the honors program. He wants to be a surgeon, like his father (who I think is an orthopedic surgeon).
- It is worth underscoring just how small Haynes’ high school is and how unlikely this offer is. It was a banner achievement for the high school. You guys don’t know a lot about my history, but Haynes and I come from almost identical educational backgrounds. The only difference was that my high school was Protestant non-denominational and Pinecrest Academy in Georgia is Catholic. Revisit, again, this article. Pinecrest Academy is a K-12 school with a high school enrollment of 210 kids. With it, you don’t get a lot of talent, compete at the very lowest tier of organized football and, before Haynes, matriculate no one to college football. If Pinecrest was anything like my high school, you enroll kids in there because you want your kids to get a nice private school education with a good religious footing. You honestly just don’t care about athletics or you would’ve enrolled your kids elsewhere. I don’t know if any of you out there can name an almost identical high school in Ohio. On my end, it reads as unlikely as if I had gotten a scholarship offer, and we didn’t even have football at my school. So yeah, this is a big deal for Haynes and his high school.
- This “congratulations” post from a “sister school” in Clarkston, TSUN cited Urban Meyer as saying that Haynes is the best high school long snapper he had ever seen. Urban Meyer was very interested in Haynes throughout December and I’m not sure if his abrupt second retirement was the difference in Haynes not getting a scholarship offer from the Gators. Meyer was really interested.
- Alex, of Eleven Warriors, has video of Doc Tressel talking about Haynes during the Signing Day ceremony.
- The Tressels thought the aforementioned video was fake because it was too fast to be believed. That came up quite a bit during his recruitment.
- Lantern article.
Well, I hope you can now say you better know a long snapper.
Let’s put him on the board.
|Class of 2011|
|Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?||Name||Position||Hometown||Better Known?|
|Michael Bennett||DT||Centerville, OH||Bryce Haynes||LS||Cumming, GA||05.29|
|Brian Bobek||OL||Palatine, IL||Jeff Heuerman||TE||Naples, FL||02.13|
|Tommy Brown||OL||Arkon, OH||05.18||Cardale Jones||QB||Cleveland, OH|
|Chris Carter, Jr||OL||Cleveland, OH||Braxton Miller||QB||Huber Heights, OH|
|Jeremy Cash||DB||Plantation, FL||04.18||Steve Miller||DE||Swingtown, OH|
|Conner Crowell||LB||Waldorf, MD||Ejuan Price||LB||Pittsburgh, PA|
|Chase Farris||DL||Elyria, OH||Ryan Shazier||LB||Plantation, FL||05.10|
|DerJuan “PeeWee” Gambrell||DB||Toledo, OH||Devin Smith||WR||Massillon, OH|
|Curtis Grant||LB||Richmond, VA||Evan Spencer||WR||Vernon Hills, IL|
|Doran Grant||DB||Akron, OH||Ron Tanner||DB||Columbus, OH||03.29|
|Joel Hale||DT||Greenwood, IN||Antonio Underwood||OL||Shaker Heights, OH|
|Kenny Hayes||DE||Toledo, OH||Nick Vannett||TE||Westerville, OH|
- I’m saving Braxton Miller for later. [↩]
- Just ask the 2002 New York Giants, though I know keep returning to this example. [↩]
- A Georgia boy surrounded by regional interests, he nevertheless identified all the “Big Ten fans” he met as Ohio State fans, as that’s what they were. [↩]
- This is seriously frustrating these features and I will keep complaining about it. [↩]
- Haynes is a bright kid. [↩]