Catching Up With: Hap Hines

NEWNAN - Catching up with former Georgia kicker Hap Hines, who now coaches at Newnan High.

"Hey, is that Mark Richt?"

An assistant coach from Newnan High, entering the Cougars' weight room at the time, had correctly identified Richt's voice, which was blaring through the speaker of a cell phone during a teleconference.

It seemed like a normal remark – but the coach was Hap Hines, who kicked for the Bulldogs from 1996-99.

Hines, who now coaches running backs and tennis, spent time coaching at North Gwinnett and his alma mater Marietta before a switch to Newnan became an option. The move made sense because his wife Kelly graduated from Newnan and close friend Mike McDonald was in position to become the head coach.

Hines hit 70 percent of his kicks at Georgia and ranks seventh on the school's all-time points list (223). He once hit four field goals in a game, in '99 against Ole Miss and finished his career with a 19-yard field goal in overtime to beat Purdue in the Outback Bowl.

Dawg Post caught up with Hines to discuss his time in Athens, how he ended up a Bulldog and much more.

Tell us about that last field goal to beat Purdue?

HH: "Yeah, it was a whopping 19-yard field goal. It was one of those kicks that was harder to miss than it was to make. That was pretty special being in my last game."

So how did you end up at Georgia?

"I kid everybody – when I played high school ball I was also a wing back. Kicking was just something I sort of did on the side. I was going to Presbyterian as like a wide receiver. It wasn't like I was highly recruited. I mean, when I say the 11th hour, I mean the 11th hour. Signing day was on a Tuesday and Thursday of the week before Georgia called me up and said they wanted to see my film and talk. We sent them my statistics and all that and they said, ‘No, we don't care about that. How many field goals did you hit?' I had never really thought about (kicking in college). Later, Jim Donnan said he had a scholarship to give and I accepted."

Playing in high school, did you think you would ever end up playing at Georgia, much less kicking there?

"It was just something I did on the side and yeah, it was one of those deals where I had gotten a couple letters, but I had it in my mind if Georgia wasn't going to offer a scholarship I was going to go to Presbyterian. I'll tell you what it was, do you remember a guy named Courtney Leavitt? He kicked at South Carolina. Georgia wanted him real bad and thought, maybe he was committed, I don't know what, but they didn't get him. They figured that out really late, and I was guess I was next on their radar. I don't know."

Did that bother you?

"What that I was No. 2? I was just glad to get a scholarship to Georgia. It didn't matter if I was first or not. It was a dream come true. It was just the perfect situation. In a lot of ways I didn't see it coming."

Do you think about how much that late offer changed the course of your life?

"I think the scholarship at Presbyterian, which is a private school, was only for like books. So to say that's a scholarship, it really isn't. You're still paying a good $25,000 a year. I'd still probably be paying off my student loans if it wasn't for Jim Donnan. I was a Georgia fan hardcore. Once I got a whiff that they were interested I was putting together VHS tapes and trying to get every game I was in during high school."

What was your best kick at Georgia?

"I had two 54-yarders. One was in my freshman year against Kentucky and one when we played Central Florida. We actually beat them by one point. Poor Jonathan Kilgo's first ever punt was blocked for a touchdown, but we blocked a couple kicks that game, too."

That ‘99 season, your last, was pretty nutty…

"It was. That Central Florida game was wild, and the loss to Tech was tough to take. Tennessee whooped us good. Florida, we were in it and somebody fumbled. It was Jasper (Sanks). We were down by three with six minutes to play and ended up losing 30-14. It was a wild season."

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