Sun Devil great happy with team's direction

CAMP TONTOZONA – When mentioning the greatest players to ever don the maroon and gold, Mike Haynes's name is always one the first to be mentioned. As a member of both the Pro and College Hall of Fame, the former ASU cornerback can certainly recognize a quality football squad when he sees one and he believes that his alma mater's 2013 team has the making of such a team.

Mike Haynes, who played for Arizona State teams between 1972-75, knows all about the rigors of Camp Tontozona - a place where he hasn't visited since his playing days in Tempe. After talking to the team on Monday night at camp, he returned to observe the Sun Devils' first practice here.

"I asked them if they did take cold showers?" Haynes said. "We used to come off the field to take super cold showers. But it looks like they don't do that anymore. I don't know if they have it easier because practice isn't any easier. I was wondering how much running they are doing, because they do a lot of running in practice.

"I don't think they need to do any extra running after practice, where we did. Coach Kush would run us for 45 minutes sometimes."

Haynes mentioned that after watching ASU in practice for the first time under Todd Graham, that the team appeared to be "high paced and focused."

"Coach Graham knows every single position," Haynes remarked, "and he gets involved in every single position. I think it's great. I haven't been here since 1975, but I don't think I'll miss next year."

When talking to the squad last night, Haynes stressed to the current Sun Devils that this is their team and their effort and attitude will ultimately dictate how successful they will be in 2013.

"The coaches are going to put them in position to do great things," Haynes explained. "But it is really up to them (the players). It's the seniors' last opportunity to play wearing a Sun Devil uniform. Some of them may go to the pros, some of them may not. I talked about them being a team and being a family and the kinds of things we did when I played.

"I was dying to come out here and see them for the very first time in practice after the spirited conversations we were having last night. I wanted to see how they looked. If they can keep this pace all year long and keep improving…because they don't have a lot to improve. If 10 is the highest level, they're not at 5, they are at 8. They have to work hard on the little things, talking more, understanding their assignments better….things that all the teams are working on. They have a good chance of doing it. They have a lot of seniors on defense, and as everybody knows defense wins games. I'm excited to watch these guys play this year."

Haynes believes that the season's preparations "all start" at Camp Tontozona and when it's time to head back to the valley you are prepared to show the fans and alumni the fruits of your hard labor. The Hall of Famer truly believes that the team chemistry and camaraderie built here at camp does pay dividends on game day.

"It's about becoming a family," Haynes said. "These guys live all over the valley; they don't all live in an athletic dorm like I did when I played here. So it's a little bit tougher and a little different challenge. But I think the guys understand what the challenge is. They are already talking about coming up with ways to get together more often and working hard to keep each other accountable.

"When you're a family and you're not doing your part, a family member tells you ‘hey, are you OK? You're not pulling your weight.' If you care you ask these kinds of questions and try to find out if there is a problem or not. That is the kind of commitment that you will see from the players and from the coaches. I really do."

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