Haden Under the Lights

Joe Haden was one of the most sought after high school prospects in the nation last year. While most people thought Haden would be doing his damage on the offensive side of the ball, it is on the defense where the young star has made an early name for himself.

What are your thoughts on making the move to the defensive side of the ball?

"I have never played corner before but Tony Joiner or Tony J as we like to call him and Kyle Jackson know the entire defense like the back of their hand. Anything that I need to know I just ask them and if I mess up, they do not get mad they are real supportive. They both stay on me all the time and tell me to go hard all the time."

How has Tony Joiner helped prepare you for the season?

"Mostly the signals are what J helps me with the most. He has been here the entire time, he and Kyle Jackson, so those guys are throwing out signals left and right like you wouldn't believe so that's where those guys help me the most."

Describe Tony Joiner's leadership role with the defense and the young secondary.

"He leads by example, he does it with his actions on the field, and all of us young guys try to follow him. If you have any questions, he will talk to you and let you know what your supposed to be doing. Whenever we are out practicing he tries to get us all hyped up by talking trash versus the offense by saying to us, 'we are To Quiet, we are To Quiet.'"

Talk about coach Chuck Heater.

"I have learned so much from Coach Heater, he has been fantastic. If you go as hard and fast as you can and do something wrong, it's okay. Coach Heater will correct it as you go and he can teach you about the right defense and coverage's we need to be in but he cannot teach you how to go hard you must bring that to the table for yourself. The entire secondary goes as hard and fast as we possibly can every single day we are out at practice. We will get where we need to be. The coaching staff knows we are young but they see the kind of strides that we are making, and he keeps teaching and teaching and teaching. Markihe Anderson is the leader out of all the corners. He was here last year, he played some, and he helps me out a bunch as well as the other corners. Markhie knows the most out of all the corners on the team."

What are your thoughts on being a possible starter at cornerback?

"It is an amazing accomplishment when any incoming freshmen comes in and locks down a starting job. What makes this situation even more incredible is the fact that I never even played cornerback in high school before. I think I played cornerback three times in practice during my high school career just messing around with the guys. I never had any intentions to play the cornerback position."

Having played the quarterback position in high school, how has that helped or hurt you making the jump to corner?

"It helps and hurts me that I played quarterback in high school when you talk about making the jump to cornerback. It hurts because when the receiver plants I look back at the ball thinking it was for me but it's not for me it's for the wide receiver, so I was missing the ball and was using my speed to play catch up. I was going after the ball as if it was intended for me. Now I know to play the wide receiver's eyes and hands and when he makes his move for the ball, I get my hands between his hands and the ball. When the quarterback takes a three step drop, the wide receiver can only run a couple of routes like a slant, quick out or fade, so having played quarterback does help in that regard."

Have you been able to increase your strength since you have been on campus?

"Most definitely, I did 185-pounds 44 times and my vertical is up to 40-inches. I am very happy where I am at physically right now."

What do you like about playing the cornerback position?

"I love to play straight up man to man in your face me and the wide receiver on an island. Every time Percy Harvin comes to the line, either Markhie Anderson or me has him one on one. The way I look at is that if I can stay with Percy Harvin I can stay with anyone in the country. At times he beats me but that is going to happen versus players with his skill level and it helps prepare me for game situations. Percy Harvin is the most explosive player that I have ever seen in my life. I have never seen anyone like him. He is truly amazing. If I guard him one on one when it's just me, him, and the quarterback with no rush and none of that when I get to the game I will be able to guard anybody. Other wide receivers might be as good as Percy but they won't be better than him and the quarterback will be facing a live rush. It's going to be good."

People are saying the defense is too young and they will struggle with all the young guys this year and the team will be only as successful as the offense. Can you talk about that?

"We look at it like this; we know that our offense is going to be great. We know that no one will be able to stop our offense, they are unbelievable. I mean you just look at them, they have Tim Tebow, you look in the backfield and they have Kestahn Moore then the wideouts with Andre Caldwell, Percy Harvin, Cornelius Ingram and everybody else. Then they have four returning starters on the offensive line. I mean they have an all-star team returning on that side of the ball. On defense, we are very young, but every one of them is ballers. If everyone on the defensive side of the ball gets their mind right, we will surprise some folks this year. I promise. We will have a stacked defense before it's all said and done."

What have you seen from Tim Tebow and his development?

"I don't know what people are talking about that say he can't throw. I try to defend that guy everyday in practice, he can throw! The thing about Tim is he is such a natural leader he just does what comes natural to him. That guy watches so much film you would not believe it. I think he watches about five hours of film a day. When I get done working out I go to coach Heater's office to talk to him and sure enough I see Tim breaking down film, it's amazing."

How can teams stop the Florida offense this year?

"No one should be able to keep this offense under 35 points per game. I do not see how they can be stopped. I don't know how when they have the ball, they don't score. They are that explosive. I do not care who we play, teams are going to have serious problems trying to stop this offense. They might stop one part of the offense, but they can't stop them all. Someone is going to break something every time they touch the ball."

What's your role been as a mentor on incoming high school kids on visits to Florida?

"I am one of the hosts when the recruits come in. I am not going to lie to a kid; I am going to tell him how it really is. I like doing that kind of stuff and selling my university. When I was being recruited I really liked having a real cool down to earth host and that is what I try to be. I really do enjoy hosting the recruits."

What are your thoughts about playing in that first game and running out of the tunnel in The Swamp?

"I love performing in front of people so it's going to make me play that much harder. When I came to a game for my official visit last year I was ready to suit up and get in the game, and I just can't wait to be a part of that energy level that they generate in The Swamp."

Fightin Gators Top Stories