Haynos has eye on NFL

Baltimoresun.com staff

From Gonzaga High (D.C.) to walk-on at Maryland to the NFL?

That's the improbable route former Terps tight end Joey Haynos would like to see culminate with a roster spot on an NFL team later this year. To achieve that goal, Haynos is training at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, working to improve his speed, strength and techniques before auditioning for teams at the NFL combine.

Haynos, 6 feet 8, 260 pounds, was the Terps' second leading receiver last season with 30 receptions for 318 yards. In 2003, he joined Maryland's football team as a walk-on after deciding against Division I basketball scholarship offers from Campbell and Coastal Carolina, among others. Haynos played sparingly as a sophomore in 2005 but started six games the next season after the early departure of first-round pick Vernon Davis. Now, he's hoping to become the next Terps tight end to reach the NFL.

While rankings seem to change from week-to-week, a quick survey of NFL draft Web sites shows Haynos ranked as high as the fourth-rated tight end and as low as No. 15. Thirteen tight ends were drafted in 2007, while 15 were selected in 2006.

Baltimoresun.com will chronicle Haynos' progress in an occasional series leading up to the NFL 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, please e-mail sports@baltimoresun.com.

One of the first steps in Haynos' preparation for the next level took place last Saturday when he played in the Hula Bowl, a seniors-only All-Star exhibition game in Honolulu, Hawaii. Haynos' East squad (the Aina) won, 38-7, and he finished with two catches for 27 yards.

"I felt like I blocked well and caught everything they threw at me," Haynos said.

Haynos answered other questions about his Hula Bowl experience via e-mail.

What were Hula Bowl practices like? Was there pressure with all the scouts watching, or was it like a normal practice?

Joey Haynos: The practices were good -- a lot like practices at Maryland in terms of one-on-ones, seven-on-sevens and a lot of team drills. I would say most of the players were really competitive because of all the scouts that were there watching. I definitely did feel some pressure because you knew you were being judged and you wanted to make your best play every time.

Who did you hang out with? What were conversations like with other players -- all draft, all the time?

Haynos: All the guys were real cool. I became friends with Adam Bishop (tight end, Nevada), Jeff Van Orsow (defensive lineman, Oregon State) and Carlton Powell (defensive tackle, Virginia Tech).

At first we talked a lot about the draft and football, but then there was so much football, paperwork and scouts that we talked about other stuff to escape.

Was this different than your typical All-Star game because the players are trying to make it to the next level and are being watched constantly?

Haynos: I'd never played in one but I know [they're] usually supposed to be fun and this was more competitive.

What was the game itself like?

Haynos: The game was lots of fun but probably boring to viewers. The coaches were a lot of fun.

Were you pleased with your performance?

Haynos: I was. I felt like I blocked well and caught everything they threw at me. I wish I could've played more but ... we had to switch every other series.

What's next?

Haynos: I'm down in Orlando at Disney's Wide World of Sports training with coach Tom Shaw until the [NFL] combine. I'm working on my 40-yard dash, my vertical and my bench. So far I'm the only [tight end] here but it's cool because I'm working out with the receivers, which helps me run better routes and I'm working with the linemen, which helps me with strength and better blocking techniques.

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