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Ole Miss Spring Football Storylines: The Potential of Defensive End Marquis Haynes

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On signing day, Hugh Freeze said Marquis Haynes had the potential to be a "phenomenal player."

While defensive end Marquis Haynes was a lightly recruited player, there began to be rumors of his ability as soon as he committed to Ole Miss. We weren't hearing tall tales, but people started saying he may be able to play major snaps as a true freshman. Others cast those expectations aside, seemingly due primarily to the number of stars next to his name. Haynes was a three-star recruit.

Out of high school, his only good offers were from UNC and Michigan State. He signed with UNC but didn't qualify. After a season in prep school, Haynes had offers from UNC, Miami, and South Carolina (and perhaps Clemson). He was set to sign with UNC again, but UNC determined that the school wouldn't admit Haynes despite his NCAA eligibility. UNC's coaches wanted Haynes to go somewhere he would have a chance to succeed (and allegedly didn't want Haynes playing at a school they would be playing), so they contacted Ole Miss' coaches. The coaches quickly offered and gained Haynes' commitment. They needed pass rushers and thought Haynes could be one.

There's some data to suggest they're right. Haynes appears to be a physical freak. In high school, he competed in a number of track events and excelled at them.

Event Result
High Jump State Champion - 6' 8"
100m Dash First Runner-up - 10.76s
Long Jump 4th Place - 22' 7"

Those numbers are impressive for any athlete, but for one who is 6'3" and weighs 220 pounds, they're remarkable. 10.76 seconds for the 100m dash is solid. It's not elite speed overall, but for someone his size, it definitely is. To give context, Senquez Golson won Mississippi's 100m dash as a senior with a time of 10.66. That's incredibly close. Remember, this isn't a forty time where a tenth of a second is a significant difference. This is one player running 100 meters one tenth of a second faster than another. And Senquez Golson plays cornerback... having once scored a run from first on a single on the baseball team.

Here's video from his time as a postgrad.

There are times when he abuses the competition and plays in which he appears to be a beneficiary of the opposing playcall. To expect Haynes to start as a true freshman, particularly in the SEC, is foolish. He's not big enough to handle tackles easily. He has only played 2A Florida high school football and a year of postgrad at Fort Union Military Academy. He also probably doesn't have the technique he needs yet.

But he could be used specifically as a pass rusher. He's fast and agile. He displays a quick first step. Ole Miss had a shortage of pass rushers last year, and it showed. Haynes is likely to be used as a situational player as a freshman before gaining an expanded role later in his career.

He's certainly one to watch for over the next few weeks. How quickly he can get into the rotation will probably tell us a lot about his ability to contribute as a freshman.