January 25, 2012

Committing to VT surreal for walk-on

National Signing Day is almost here and Virginia Tech picked up a commitment earlier this evening. The latest pledge wrapped it up picking the Hokies over a handful of Division I-AA offers.

"I'm extremely excited," Lorton (Va.) South County defensive end Jeremy Haynes said. "I talked to Coach Foster tonight and he was excited. I saw him in school today when he came up and told him I'll give him a call tonight to ham everything out.

"He was excited, I'm excited. I'd like to go to Tech tomorrow," he laughed.

How did the conversation go?

"We talked about how everything would be laid out and what I have to do in the weight room to be competitive for a spot," he said. "I'm happy to have the decision done, it's been weighing on me a lot and just getting done is great."

Certainly Haynes was high on the Hokies, but there are many factors that played into that.

"The atmosphere is unlike any other I've seen," he said. "Blacksburg is it's own state down there. I can't describe how it was down there, but it's surreal. Me being a Hokie is surreal, that is something I have to get used to and is part of the excitement. I can't believe it took me so much time to decide it, it was such an easy decision.

"The program speaks for itself. My whole family is from the Radford and Christiansburg area and talking to Coach Beamer, he's like a God. It was exciting for my family hearing from Beamer, Foster and Tech."

The opportunity to play in Tech's defense, a scheme they utilize at South County was big in and of itself too.

"It's crazy," he said. "Our coaches go down there once a year to try to replicate the defense and that is what he (Coach Foster) is known for, that's what he's making his living on with the defense he's made. That is part of the reason Virginia Tech has been so successful is the style of defense they play and the intensity they bring to the table. It's a surreal feeling to play big boy football, it's not I-AA, it's the big leagues and the best get to the BCS."

Finally, ties to Hokie commitment Devin Vandyke were important also.

"You know, it's a factor," he said. "I tried not to make it a factor, but Devin is one of my best friends and it's going to be a factor. We'll be a little separate, but he was the first person I called after I made my decision. We talk about it all the time and he has been pushing it a bit."

This is just the beginning for Haynes as he understands there is plenty of work ahead if he hopes to play for the Hokies one day.

"A lot of recruiters have said or characterized me as a skinny defensive end," he said. "Coach Foster told me it's up to me and when my body makes the transformation they want. I'm 6-foot-3, 217-pounds right now and the faster I can get to 245-pounds, the faster we can talk about playing time. The good thing is that it's my decision and I know that, there are not many other factors, I just have to get myself there before the next part begins.

"Coach Foster mentioned that special teams is a way to see the field. You hear about Beamerball and that's part of what I like about Virginia Tech, they make the walk-ons part of their team and it's such a big deal because of the atmosphere, but that is a ticket and a way to get on the team. I'm definitely interested in bringing something to blocking punts cause I understand, one play can change the course of a game."

With that, Haynes is thrilled with his selection.

"It's just an incredible feeling and I'm blessed to even be able to keep playing on especially at the BCS football level," he said. "I'm humbled by this and it makes me want to work so much harder. The last four years I've seen what I can do and I've learned from it and I know there is more I can bring to the table."

In the end, Haynes picked the Hokies over offers from Bryant, Columbia, Holy Cross and Davidson as well as walk-on spots at James Madison and William & Mary.

Haynes broke down what sticks out about him as he prepares to make the next step.

"I think right now it's my work ethic," he said. "I don't have one outstanding characteristic that makes me stand out or else I'd probably be a scholarship guy, but that pushes me to work harder and use that to my advantage. I just have to keep growing and with my work ethic, I can use that to separate myself."

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