August 24, 2011

Dean Haynes adjusting to new role again

Redshirt sophomore Dean Haynes opens up this season's preseason camp as the second-string boundary safety. The native of Tunnel Hill, Ga. has suited up at defensive back for the Pack before, but that represents quite a change from the 2010 campaign, where he started the season as the first-string running back.

Bouncing from position to position to help the team is nothing new for the 5-foot-11, 199-pounder, though. Haynes was an all-area defensive back and also played tailback as a sophomore and junior at Northwest Whitfield County High before playing mostly at quarterback and running back as a senior. In his final prep campaign, Haynes earned all-area laurels under center and was named the area's Player of the Year after he was responsible for 126 points.

The position changes have continued on the college level - Haynes started his career in Raleigh as a safety. He also played some scout team quarterback and earned the offensive scout team's Player of the Week honors before the Pittsburgh game while redshirting. He was also named the defensive scout team's Player of the Week prior to the North Carolina contest for his work at defensive back.

"I actually came in as a safety, got moved to quarterback for a little bit, played corner for a little bit, then back to safety," he remembered - and those were just the position changes he went through as a rookie.

The former two-star recruit moved from defensive back to tailback just two weeks before the season opener last fall and was in the starting lineup for the first eight games as a redshirt freshman. He finished the year as the team's third-leading rusher with 320 yards and three scores, in addition to 13 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. His best game came against Georgia Tech, when he rushed for 75 yards on 18 carries and he also hauled in a 34-yard reception.

This past spring, he moved back to safety, where he is still practicing as the season opener approaches. The versatile athlete is also working at the team's nickel back position in preseason camp. Haynes says he is focused on simply playing wherever he can help the team the most.

"It was a hard transition [going back to safety] but I've been in the film room, I'm getting my coverages down and getting my reads right so it's going pretty good," he said. "I'm going to do what [the coaches] ask me to do. I came here to play football, whether it's at DB or lineman they want me to play, I'm going to learn my keys and what I have to do. I'm just going to do my best at the position they ask me to play."

After a pretty steep learning curve in the spring, Haynes is beginning to get more comfortable at boundary safety.

"The first spring was actually pretty difficult," he admitted. "I was pretty far behind all the other guys who had been in the defense for the whole season. It was just a learning process all spring really. I never really got a full grasp of the defense. It took really up until this camp to get a grasp on the defense and learn what I had to do."

Haynes looks back at his time on offense as a positive and a negative, although there's no denying that earning game experience as a redshirt freshman will pay off down the road.

"[The time on offense] helps me understand what the routes are going to be, but it also kind of hinders me in the fact that it was harder for me to learn the coverages and where I'm supposed to be," Haynes said. "It helps me in certain ways, but it also hurts me in others.

"Of course, time on the field helps a lot. Not only did it get me out there, but I got used to the game speed and things of that nature."

After eluding defenders last season as a ball carrier, Haynes is ready to utilize his smash-mouth mindset and wreck havoc as part of what should be an excellent NC State defense.

"We got a lot riding on the defense," he said. "We've been working hard in the offseason in this camp. I think we're ready to have a great season. On defense, our mindset is just to attack our goals. We've got high expectations and we're ready to play up to them, if not play above them. We really just want to attack the offenses each game, one game at a time; just go out there and dominate."

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