“Definitely,” he said. “My big thing is no one is going to outwork me. That’s my motto. I don’t care who you are. You are not going to outwork me. I am going to come in, show up, do what I have to do and just continue to keep working. The top really is lonely.”
Haynes has 3,504 rushing yards in 25 games in high school. That’s 9.2 yards per attempt. He scored 43 of his 46 total touchdowns on the ground. An average game so far has netted him 140 yards on the ground.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution took note of his pace over his last 14 games and wrote the following: If Haynes maintains his average per game from last year through his final two seasons, and Blessed Trinity averages 14 games, as it has over the past seven non-COVID campaigns, there will be a new Georgia record holder.
The state record of 8,844 career rushing yards was set by the mercurial Monte Williams at Commerce in 2000.
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He knows the first game he will see this fall. That will be Clemson vs. Georgia in Charlotte on Sept. 4.
Georgia got the last college visit before the July and August dead periods from Haynes. That was for the scavenger hunt in late June. He had a thrilling time back in Athens, he said.
Haynes camped at UGA on June 2. He didn’t have to work out, but this is Haynes we are writing about.
If he wanted to be in street clothes chilling, then that whole previous section about how hard he works would seem quite flimsy.
“Every time I go somewhere and every time I step on a field I want to compete,” Justice Haynes said. “I know when I get to college I will have to compete against the best. So why not compete with coach McGee that day? Coach McGee has coached some fantastic backs. He’s put fantastic backs into the NFL. He knows what he’s talking about. So why not take advantage of that day to learn from one of the best in the game right now at the running back position?”
He says McGee tells him he has to have him. But it sounds like McGee has taken this recruitment to a whole new level.
“Coach McGee has been like ‘If I lose you then you are going to get me fired if I lose you’ and ‘you are going to get me fired if I lose you’ and he says that a lot,” Justice Haynes said.
His lasting impressions of the opportunity at UGA centers on McGee.
“Coach McGee and I have built a really strong relationship,” he said. “Like really strong. I talk to him once a week at least, if not twice. I talk to Kirby [Smart] like that just as well. They express how much they want me and how much I’m their guy. That means a lot to me that coach McGee really wants me and he’s a great recruiter. I like all the chances I get to talk to him a whole lot.”
Haynes has an updated view of Georgia. Or the better way to describe that is the new Georgia offense.
This will not be the offense that fed the ball predominately to the Nick Chubbs, the Robert Edwards talents, the Todd Gurleys, the Verron Haynes battering rams, the sleek Knowshon Morenos or the Herschel Walkers of UGA lore.
“Georgia running backs are out in space now,” Haynes said. “As you see with James Cook a lot. They will put him out at receiver. That Alabama game actually. He took it 80 yards. I feel like my skill set is just as equal. I can go out there and receive the ball. I looking forward to this high school year showing people how I can do that. In camps, I have done that. I have shown I can do that. I’m ready to do that out on the field this year as well.”
Haynes almost always quickly uses the word “home” when describing the chance to play for UGA.
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All-American RB Justice Haynes is ranked as the nation’s No. 4 RB prospect and the No. 71 overall recruit for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
Haynes must have certain days to wear specific gear at practice. That’s like he does for training areas of his body. He had Alabama and Georgia gloves on different days last week. It looked like he had an LSU towel on both occasions.
Clemson’s coaches love him, too. As they should.
“Dabo when I was there he explained to me how much he wants me,” Hayes said back on June 3. “He’d love to get me to come there and said he’s fighting off the ‘Dawgs and he going to try and take me away from the ‘Dawgs.”
Haynes often calls his recruitment “100 percent open” in an interview setting.
“There are some schools recruiting me harder than others,” he said.
Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Stanford have been recruiting him the hardest so far through this summer. That said, he did offer up that Clemson and Georgia have had recruited him the most uniquely.
That might be quality as well as a quantity measure there for those schools. Ohio State also made a big impression when he visited there in June.
“I loved it there,” Justice Haynes said. “They did a lot of things differently than a lot of other schools. In particular, what they did differently was the film session. [Running backs] coach [Tony] Alford, he shot it to me straight. He said everyone is going to tell you how good you are and try to sell you off how good you are. We’re going to try to keep it real with you. We’re going to tell you what you need to work on and how we can make you better and how we can take you to the next level.”
Alford was surgical in his assessments.
“One thing he taught me was how to run in the open field at a defender,” Haynes added. “If there’s an open space and you have a defender coming from the right side you see that open space. Most people will run to the left to the open space. Coach Alford taught me to run at the defender. Make him stop his feet and then make a move on him. Then it’s an arm tackle away and then you are gone.”
“He has an angle on you if you run straight to the open field. He taught me that and that’s something I continue to work on and that I work on each and every day at practice.”
Alford also gave him some stuff to take back to his offensive line. Just by reading the defensive players and their technique for a pre-snap read of what the defense is likely to run.
“So you are not just running off instinct,” Haynes said. “But by running on instinct and the knowledge of where they are going to be.”
That visit moved the needle a great deal. It was his first time in Columbus.
“Notre Dame was also tremendous,” he said. “Just to meet [running backs] coach [Lance] Taylor in person was amazing. Notre Dame just as well dropped some knowledge on me. Just some stuff I can take back here to Blessed Trinity and help my whole team.”
He prefers talking to recruiters face-to-face. Haynes feels he is becoming adept at reading people.
“You can just read their facial expressions and their features,” he said. “You can tell whether they are keeping it real with you or not.”
Haynes has long thought to make his decision at the end of his junior season. And yet …
“But at the same time if God gives me and puts it in my head and hands saying this is the opportunity and the chance that I need to take then I’m going to do it when God tells me it is right,” he said.
He will probably do it before his senior year, but will leave that in God’s hands, he said.
“God could put it in my head tomorrow that this school is where I need to be,” Justice Haynes said. “I don’t know when that time is going to be. Only he does.”
What is he looking for? That has never wavered.
“I have a nice foundation with my family and my coaches at BT here,” he said. “I’m looking for something just like Blessed Trinity. Which is family, faith and the culture we have around here. A nice locker room. Good group of guys. Then how the coaches are going to make us better on the field, but make us better men off the field, too.”
Justice Haynes (22) carried the ball 176 times for 1,750 yards and 25 touchdowns in nine games as a sophomore in 2020.
Christina Matacotta, AJC Freelancer
Haynes will carry a different role at BT this fall. He will be at running back and playing a lot of safety on defense.
Blessed Trinity has a new head coach in Tom Hall. Georgia high school legend Tim McFarlin is no longer leading the team. He led a program that had never won a playoff game to three state titles in 10 years.
The Titans only threw the ball eight times per game in 2020. Hall wants to improve on that. Senior QB J.C. French is a 3-star QB with reported offers from Arkansas State, Tulane and Virginia Tech.
“Justice catches the ball extremely well coming out of the backfield,” Hall said. “We want to make more use of that this year. … We have to be willing to throw the ball out on the edges in space and get these guys rolling.”
Blessed Trinity will manage the workload for Haynes more this year.
“Justice and I had conversations back this spring when I first got here,” Hall said. “I told him he has a huge career ahead of him. We’re going to do everything we can to win football games but at the same time, we need to salvage and save your body. He can’t be carrying the ball 38, 39 or 40 times per game.”
The Titans lost three starting offensive linemen off last year’s team. It was a very good group, but the thinking is Haynes will be better this fall. He’ll have a quality line up front that just needs some experience to spring him to be better than ever in 2021.
“His vision and the way he cuts back and the way he drops his pads on guys you just don’t see that combination very often,” Hall said. “A guy that has that vision, can make those cuts and be powerful and still run away from guys. He’s a special kid.”
When Hall first saw Haynes after he got the job, what struck him was how “powerful” he was.
“Thick in the legs,” Hall said. “I didn’t know he was that well put together. Just an overall real powerful kid.”
Hall said the staff has to caution Haynes about his unbelievable work ethic.
“He almost overtrains or comes close to that,” Hall said. “Between baseball and then football, he’s almost doing something every single day. He’s got to let his body rest. He’s doing all of the right things with the recovery and the hyperbaric chambers and all, but he has to let his body repair and to grow and all those things and get some rest. He’s a tireless worker. His work ethic is amazing, but it is just almost to the point where he has got to just be a little more balanced with it.”
“It is a fine line. I get it. But I want him to be real cautious with it because he works and trains so hard.”
With all that work, Haynes feels he is preparing his mind for success. Not just his body.
“I just want to be great in general,” he said. “This is preparing me not just for sports. God willing I make it to the league one day. But I don’t know when this will end. That’s God’s decision. But in life, you have got to work hard in anything that you do if you want to be great. This is just teaching me to work hard in everything I do. Keep grinding. Even when you don’t want to. Do it for the bigger picture. That’s what motivates me.”
Justice Haynes has shown pretty much an inexhaustible work ethic so far in his high school career. He’s a driven high school kid. To be sure.
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
Clemson got a visit on June 1. Haynes was at UGA on June 2. He visited Alabama on June 14. He got to see LSU, Michigan and Ohio State later that month.
He then returned to Athens for the scavenger hunt event on the last weekend in June.
Haynes has a boilerplate list of things he goes through on a visit. It makes sense. Anyone who is that disciplined and dedicated in the many areas which will augment his career would have to be that introspective in another key area of his development.
Here are a few of his go-to’s:
- How many guys are you going to carry in your running back room?
- How are you going to make me a better person and not just a better player?
- How are you going to take my game to the next level to proceed to the NFL?
A lot of the coaches that recruit him in football know he also plays baseball. They know there’s a chance he could get drafted. They also know he’d like to at least attempt to play both sports in college.
“I tell them it is a thought,” Haynes said. “We are also just going to put that in God’s hands. It is hard to do both. You’ve got to learn a lot and not miss those reps on a football field coming in as a freshman.”
He’s a left-hander on the mound and in the box. Think Rickey Henderson or Deion Sanders. He will pitch and play in the outfield.
“I love baseball,” he said. “Baseball has a special place in my heart but football is definitely more exciting for me. Just the Friday nights. I can get the chills right now just thinking about it. I can’t wait to get out there with my brothers again and just continue to keep working and compete. I know we open up with Woodland and it should be exciting.”
Hall stressed how well Haynes excels in the classroom. The rising junior All-American RB also carries a 3.8 grade-point average.
“Very faithful by the way,” his new head coach said. “Very faith-driven kid and he has football knowledge. A lot of our kids do not. He understands football and asks great questions of his coaches all the time. If we have a formation wrong, he will usually detect that. He’s a student of the game. He’s a football guy and not just a special talent.”
Blessed Trinity’s Justice Haynes is a priority target for UGA at the RB position in the 2023 cycle. The Bulldogs should lose James Cook and Zamir White to the NFL Draft after the 2021 season. Kenny McIntosh will also be draft-eligible after this fall if he puts together a big season, too. Kendall Milton is also the type of talent who could hear the NFL’s call after his junior year in 2022.
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
(check on the recent recruiting reads on DawgNation.com)