Gateway High School is a known division-one pipeline and the Pennsylvania-based school has produced another highly touted prospect in Robert Hainsey. At 6’4”, 250 pounds, Hainsey has impressive size for a sophomore offensive tackle, eliciting early recruiting interest from Penn State and Michigan.
“The two teams are Penn State and Michigan,” said Hainsey of who has recruited him hardest. “They both send me a lot of messages. I’ve been up to both of them more than once, a couple of times each. I really like it on both campuses. They are both great. I feel like both coaching staffs are great. It’s just really nice at both places and there is something that I like. It is really comparable because Big Ten schools are going to be like that.”
Hainsey has had some time to connect with both schools over the offseason and is building a sense of familiarity with each program. While the two Big Tens schools are not the only ones recruiting him, they are the two piquing his interest at the moment.
Last month, Hainsey visited Ann Arbor to participate in the Wolverine Technique School. He had a strong showing during his camp sessions and he recalls his most recent trip to Michigan fondly.
“It was a great experience,” said Hainsey. “We got to practice in the Big House and that was just amazing. I was only a one-day camper, so I just went up for the single day and did both morning and afternoon sessions. That was great because I got to get the maximum work and show the coaches everything.
“In the drills, I learned a lot and got to receive a lot of great teaching from the coaches and assistant coaches throughout the one-on-ones. I thought I did very well. [Offensive line] Coach [Darrel] Funk even agreed and said that I did very well.”
As the offensive line coach and the Wolverines’ area recruiter for Pennsylvania, it is clear why coach Funk’s approval is important. Hainsey also earned praise from another pivotal member of Michigan coaching staff.
“Right after the camp before I was leaving I talked to coach Hoke and he sat and watched some of my one-on-ones,” said Hainsey. “Before I left, he said he was really impressed and liked what I did. After that I just walked out with Coach Funk and we got to talk some more.”
Hainsey then experienced a quick turn-around, as he was scheduled to camp at Penn State shortly after, but was physically unable to do so.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to attend the Penn State camp, like where I would do my drills and my one-on-ones, because I had a cast on my thumb,” said Hainsey. “At the Michigan camp previously I had broken it, and so my doctor said it needed to be put in a cast. I was unable to participate in that camp, but the day after that was a cookout for recruits. I went out that day and had a great time, saw a bunch of people. They did some 7-on-7s, I watched the lineman workout in the weight room and had a great time. That was nice.”
Full-knowing that he wouldn’t be able to participate in drills, Hainsey still felt it was important to get back to Happy Valley, which he has identified as one of his early favorites.
“I definitely wanted to take that opportunity,” he said. “I talked to coach Gattis and he said he would still really like me to come up even though I couldn’t attend the camp, so I said ‘definitely, it’s no problem’. I wanted to get my name out there a little bit more and meet some more coaches. It was great.”
“It was the wide receiver coach [John Gattis]. Him and coach [Herb] Hand, the offensive line coach,” said Hainsey of who invited him. “I have a lot closer relationship with [cornerback] coach Terry [Smith] from previous experiences, so I know him really well too. I was able to contact him and talk to him quite a bit. Then coach Hand, he is the offensive line coach, so he wanted to get to know me and what I’m about. I talked to him quite a bit too.”
Both Michigan and Penn State sit in very good position for Hainsey at this stage, but they have another factor in common that works in their favor that many schools across the country cannot match.
“Definitely distance,” he said. “Both Penn State and Michigan are not too terribly far, so they are close enough for my parents to be able to come see me and watch multiple games. Other than that, it’s about where I feel more at home and how I feel about both schools because I’ve only been out there a few times. After a few more visits then I’ll be able to see what each schools is like, then I’ll be able to choose which school is right for me.”
But before he can reach his potential as a coveted football recruit, Hainsey is staying focused on first reaching his potential on the field and is also determined to improve on last year’s 8-3 season.
“As soon as the season last year was over, I was right in the weight room trying to get ready because I knew the season would be here before I knew it,” Hainsey said.
The Gators lost a plethora of contributors to graduation; as a result, Hainsey has sought to mask the weaknesses that are expected to arise during the upcoming season, and he has already adjusted to the added weight on his shoulders this year.
“I’ve been trying to focus the most on my run blocking because we don’t have the same air attack and passing game as last year,” he said. “We are still without a set quarterback and receiving corps because our talent has just changed.
“Our line is going to have to step up and drive us down the field so we can get the yards we need. Then we would avoid passing situations like third and long to where we might not be able to execute.”
Michigan, Penn State Standing Out for Hainsey
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