Haynos faces tough call on switching to tackle

The Baltimore Sun

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even in the retelling, former Maryland tight end Joey Haynos still seemed surprised.

On the first night that draft prospects met with NFL coaches and executives at the league's annual job fair here, Haynos was asked about a possible move to offensive tackle.

This is where guys in shorts can earn millions in the draft and others face the hard, cold reality of life in football. Haynos will probably fall in the latter group.

Was he taken aback by the question? "A little bit," he said yesterday.

But true to the former walk-on who earned a scholarship at Maryland when no other Division I team gave him a shot, Haynos said he would do what was necessary.

"I'm willing to do whatever to make an NFL team and play," he said. "Obviously, I'd like to stay at tight end. I've played it my whole life, I'm comfortable there. Like I said, I'm willing to do anything."

At 6 feet 7 1/2 and 259 pounds, he'd need a lot more weight to become a tackle. He will likely get his chance at tight end next summer after showing good hands and pass receiving ability at Maryland. He's projected as a sixth- or seventh-round pick in April.

Haynos, 23, figures the same thing that earned him a scholarship at Maryland will land him an opportunity in the NFL.

"Hard work," he said. "I definitely put my time in the weight room. I came in pretty skinny and weak, and with the help of strength trainer Dwight Galt, I was able to develop my body eventually into an ACC starter."

Haynos, who lives in Rockville, walked on at College Park in 2003 after a high school career as a receiver and quarterback at Gonzaga College. He weighed 225 pounds. He was not an instant success.

"When I first got there, I wasn't playing much and coaches were telling me to transfer and stuff like that," he said. "Just sort of yelling at me. I don't know if they were serious or not. ... But I persevered."

He got the scholarship after a year and a half. By his sophomore season, he played in nine games as a reserve. As a junior, he started six of 13 games, caught 37 passes and three touchdowns.

Last season, he started five of the Terps' last six games and had 22 catches over that period. His 30 total catches ranked second on the team behind Darrius Heyward-Bey (McDonogh).

"I don't think I really showed what I can do receiving-wise," he said. "I had a good two years, caught a lot of balls, but I think I can do a lot more in the passing game."

Like catch the fade in the end zone with his height advantage. It was a play Terps coach Ralph Friedgen didn't call during Haynos' time there.

Haynos doesn't deceive himself when it comes to his role in the NFL, though.

"I think wherever I go, blocking is what's going to get me on the field, and then hopefully I can show them that I can be a receiver, too."

His background as a basketball player - Haynos received a Division I basketball offer from Campbell University in North Carolina, he said - helped make him a better athlete.

His dedication in the weight room made him stronger. And a two-month stint at Tom Shaw's camp in Orlando, Fla., helped prepare him for the physical rigors of the combine.

But nothing prepared him for the mental strain that accompanies it.

"It's pretty stressful, but I'm dealing," Haynos said. "The worst part is the buildup. [NFL] people put so much emphasis on running. It sort of stresses you out. I know I'll be relieved when I'm done."

Still, he understands cause and effect.

"It's a business, for sure. Some other tight ends and I were joking earlier how this is just one big interview. I said if I ever went for a normal job and this is the interview, I'd think twice. But they make big investments in the players, and they want to know everything about them. I can appreciate that."


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