Good Is Not Enough If Better Is Possible
That slogan is one of several motivational phrases strategically placed just below the ceiling of the Gossett Team House weight room, encouraging Maryland football players to give their all during those exhausting workout sessions.
That particular axiom works for almost any inspirational moment, but it's especially fitting for former Terps tight end and NFL hopeful Joey Haynos.
Haynos had a good NFL combine in Indianapolis last month. But at Maryland's Pro Day on Wednesday, with more than 30 NFL representatives on hand to clock, measure and weigh former Terps that are now pro prospects, Haynos had a chance to find out if those words of encouragement would hold true for him.
The following is an account of Haynos' performance at Pro Day:
The first several minutes are spent measuring the 15 former Maryland football players. Heights are recorded, and measurements of their hand widths and wingspans are taken. The athletes are also weighed.
Haynos checks in at 6 feet 7 1/4 with a hand width of 10 1/8 inches and a wingspan of 33 3/8. He weighs in at 264 pounds -- five pounds heavier than his combine weight.
With measurements completed, it's time for the 15 former Terps to take a crack at the bench press. After Lance Ball, Andrew Crummey, Carlos Feliciano, Isaiah Gardner and Jason Goode take their turns, Haynos is up.
He walks purposefully toward the bench press, lies on his back and stares up at the 45-pound bar, flanked on both ends with two 45-pound plates. At the combine, Haynos benched 225 pounds 17 times. He had hoped for 18. Now he has another shot at reaching his goal.
He grips the bar, tilting the metallic apparatus on which the bar rests forward. Maryland's director of strength and conditioning, Dwight Galt, the spotter for each athlete, lets go of the bar. Haynos lifts and Galt begins barking at his former weight room pupil.
"One ... two ... three ... four, good," Galt firmly calls out while Haynos bounces the bar off his chest, effortlessly thrusting his first four repetitions of 225 pounds toward the sky. "Five, come on. Six ... seven, go baby. Eight ... nine, come on! Don't worry about it! PUSH! Eleven, c'mon! Twelve," Galt says as Haynos pauses, showing the first sign of fatigue. "Thirteen. Keep going. Two more. Fourteen. Come on! Fifteen," Galt says emphatically during an extended Haynos pause. Galt, sensing Haynos' tired state, raises his already loud voice. "All right! Let's go to work! Let's go to WORK! Sixteen. Let's go to work, come on! Seventeen. Go to work, c'mon! Eighteen. C'mon Joe! Nineteen. C'mon, one more!"
Haynos drops the bar to his chest one last time, having already exceeded both his combine performance, and his overall bench press goal.
"One more, Haynos!" an observer yells in the background.
"FIGHT!" screams another onlooker.
He pushes the weight up with all his remaining strength. His arms are surprisingly steady, forming two 90-degree angles. That's all the strength Haynos can muster. Galt grabs the bar, putting it back on the holder.
"Nineteen," Galt proudly announces to the crowd.
An exhausted Haynos rises from the bench, letting out a deep breath that illustrates his physical exertion.
"Good job, Joe," someone says in the crowd, while Haynos slaps hands, exchanges hugs and fist pounds former teammates Erin Henderson, J.J. Justice and Crummey.
Haynos later said he was pleased -- to an extent -- with his bench performance.
"My first thought was, 'Man, I wish I'd got 20,' " he said. "But that's just the nature of any exercise. In the vertical [leap], you wish you got one more inch. For the 40, you wish you knocked more time off. But I was really happy with 19. My first thought was how good it felt."
Haynos had spent the past several post-combine weeks training in College Park with Galt, other Maryland NFL hopefuls and past Terps players. Haynos credited Galt with helping him get over that 17-rep hump.
"It was great working with him again," Haynos said. "Down in Orlando (at Tom Shaw's training camp), I was mostly focusing on speed and agility stuff. I was a little disappointed with my bench in Indianapolis, but I knew I was coming back [to Maryland] and [Galt] would help me get my bench up. It's just sort of a comfort level thing. Working with him was great."
Scouts, media, players and coaches file out of the Gossett Team House weight room, onto a sidewalk separating the team's football headquarters from the field at Byrd Stadium. A left turn on the path leads up a set of stairs, then a flat surface that grants access to the dining hall, followed by another set of stairs that spill out onto Field House Drive. From there, everyone crosses the street and walks into Cole Student Activities Building.
The turf inside Cole is littered with scouts from nearly every NFL franchise -- each scout identifiable with some form of Reebok gear (golf shirt, pullover, baseball cap) emblazoned with their team's logo.
Haynos, meanwhile, stays close to the southeast corner of Cole. A barrier separates the turf from the stands, which are occupied by numerous UM football underclassmen, other friends and family members. Sporting red and black Nike track flats, black and red Under Armour shorts and a long-sleeved black Terps shirt, Haynos sticks close to the barrier. He practices high-steps and jumps, standing in place and thrusting his knees into his abdomen.
The fluid movements are in anticipation of the vertical leap, an event in which Haynos placed sixth among tight ends at the combine with a jump of 30.5 inches.
Galt mans the vertical leap station, holding a long metallic pole that he uses to line up the plastic inch markers that are attached to the vertical leap pole.
Haynos sheds his long-sleeved shirt and loose-fitting shorts for a white dry-fit shirt and black compression shorts. He stands with his back against the pole, raising his arms behind his back and grasping the pole. Galt measures the distance and Haynos briefly steps away to compose himself.
Swinging his arms in unison, Haynos steps back to the pole, staring at the inch markers, all lined up in a row. He stands in place, arms still simultaneously fluctuating. After a few seconds, Haynos raises his arms one last time and leaps into the air. His right hand smacks almost half of the white markers. Landing softly on the turf, Haynos stares up at his handiwork.
"31.5 inches," Galt says.
Another drill, another improvement.
Minutes later, Haynos records his most dramatic improvement of the day. At the broad jump event, he leaps 10 feet, 8 inches, bettering his combine showing by five inches.
"I felt loose and good," Haynos said. "It felt like I was flying. ... I could tell by the way I jumped, but didn't know that I'd do that much better."
Haynos posts a solid 4.28 in the pro agility drill, but decides against running the three-cone drill at Pro Day. His time of 6.92 seconds was third among tight ends at the combine.
For Haynos, the speed portion of Pro Day is all about the 40-yard dash -- especially after running a 4.87 at the combine. He had hoped for something in the high 4.7s or low 4.8s.
At Pro Day, several scouts mill about near the starting line, just in front of the barrier of the west end of Cole. Forty yards down field, roughly ten scouts, all armed with stopwatches, stand to the left of the finish line. On the right, several more scouts, plus coaches, players and media, patiently await each Terp's arrival.
Dre Moore, who has a good shot at being Maryland's highest draftee come April, declines to participate in most of the Pro Day activities thanks to a stellar combine performance. Instead, Moore hovers behind the scouts, leaning in to hear them compare their times for each Terp. He then turns around, flashing the times with his hands to teammates in the stands.
Haynos and the other Maryland players get two attempts each. For the first, Haynos runs an unofficial 4.85. It's difficult to tell just how accurate each time is. Depending on the scout and how fast his trigger finger on the stop watch is, the 40 times can vary.
For his second attempt, Haynos flies past the finish line, and scouts click their watches in unison. After running through the line and eventually stopping before the entrance to Cole, Haynos returns to the crowd of timers, seeking his result.
"Did you get my time?" Haynos asks two nearby reporters.
"4.79," one replies.
"Seriously?" Haynos asks.
After some additional comparisons with other stop watches, the general consensus is that Haynos has run between 4.80 and 4.83. Either way, it's another solid improvement from the combine.
"I think my official time [at the combine] was 4.87, but what I heard [at Pro Day] was 4.8 flat, so I'm going to go with that for now," Haynos said. "My goal was just to get into the high 4.7s or low 4.8s, but it's the nature of the exercise. I wish I got a 4.79. There's not really much difference, but I'm really happy with it. I got right around what I thought I was going to get."
After an hour and a half of speed and agility drills, the Pro Day participants and attendees march out of Cole, greeted by a near-cloudless, sunny blue sky. The group walks across Field House Drive and down the stairs in front of Gossett Team House once again, eventually winding its way up some additional stairs, past Varsity Team House and onto the Terps' football practice field.
Haynos and fellow tight end Jason Goode go to work on the south end of the field with former Terps quarterback Mike Tice, who previously served as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and now works with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tice, the Jaguars' assistant head coach, works specifically with the Jacksonville tight ends. Maybe he makes the trip to College Park for old times sake. But maybe it's to get an up-close look at Haynos, and/or Goode.
"It feels good knowing that someone is interested enough to come out to the Pro Day," Haynos said. "I'm sure a lot of it is [Tice] coming back to Maryland and seeing some of the guys, but if there wasn't someone he was interested in, he probably wouldn't have taken the trip."
Like the rest of Pro Day, the tight end drills are exceedingly relaxed compared to the non-stop intensity of the combine. Pro Day has a much more collegial atmosphere, with former teammates cheering each other on. At the combine, it was a competition for a few jobs. At Pro Day, it's 15 guys rooting for each other.
Despite the difference in atmosphere, Tice works Haynos and Goode intently. There's a heavy emphasis on blocking. Tice holds the pad and instructs Haynos and Goode on the proper stances, demonstrating drive blocking among other techniques. They then move on to route-running and pass-catching to wind down the afternoon.
For Haynos and the rest of the Maryland NFL hopefuls, the next six weeks are a waiting game of sorts.
"Hopefully I'll have some teams come work me out, but that's sort of a crap shoot," Haynos said. "I'm just going to stay in shape, work on getting stronger and faster. I don't have to focus on the 40, the shuttle drill and all that, so I can just focus on football."
According to Galt, several scouts have commented to him on how determined Haynos seems to be.
"Joe is just a great kid because he's got this great work ethic," Galt said. "He leaves no stone unturned. From the bowl game until now, he's had it all mapped out. ... [At Pro Day] he got two more reps on the bench. He got another inch on his vertical. He added five inches in the broad jump. He really improved in everything."
It all comes back to that motivational phrase in the weight room. Haynos' NFL combine was good, but the Pro Day proved that better was possible.
Baltimoresun.com will chronicle former Maryland tight end Joey Haynos' quest to make an NFL roster in an occasional series leading up to the draft on April 26-27. If you have questions for Haynos or are interested in a particular aspect of the life of an NFL hopeful, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.