Jay Haynes wasn’t an overly heralded recruit in the Class of 2022, but some observers said that he could be better than anyone realized. When Haynes saw the field last season, he made an impression.
The reality, of course, was that those opportunities came against FCS and G5 competition because Haynes was a freshman, and freshmen don’t often get to feast until the starters (Will Shipley & Phil Mafah) get their share. At the start of 2023, Domonique Thomas and Keith Adams got their chance too.
Then we hear the same story as we heard twice already: injuries. Haynes missed several games in the midseason and didn’t have a chance to play again until the Gator Bowl.
In 2024, Shipley and Thomas will not be there. Mafah will be the feature back, and there will be a competition between now and the start of the season for the primary backup role. Adams will be part of that competition, along with incoming early enrollee David Eziomume.
Based on what we did see in 2023, Haynes looks like he has the most versatility and talent. He made plays on the ground and as a receiver. Mafah can catch the ball too but it isn’t his speciality. Haynes could be a big change of pace that makes the defense account for another receiver on the field.
The factor that could derail all of this? Blocking. We know that the staff values blocking by the running backs in the passing game. Adams might have the advantage there and might be the favored backup early in the season. My guess is Haynes could change that with some explosive plays.
Next: Avieon Terrell