Verron Haynes: Mr. Versatility

Attention NFL scouts: <b>Verron Haynes</b> may be the next great surprise at running back to come out of Georgia.

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With Denver Broncos scout Dale Strahm — a former Georgia assistant coach — watching from the press box, Haynes continued to prove he can be more block. Denver already has won big by making Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary late-round draft picks from Georgia. Haynes, a senior, may be worth a look for some team next April.

One week after he caught the game-winning pass in a 26-24 victory over Tennessee, Haynes enjoyed another big game in the state, setting career highs with seven carries for 25 yards. He added three catches for 88 yards — another career high — including a career-long 43-yarder.

Considering that before the Tennessee game Haynes did not have a career catch and now he has seven receptions, his coming-out party the last two weeks has been fairly dramatic. The starting fullback even spent some time at tailback Saturday in one-back sets as he continues to prove his versatility.

Expect more opportunities with the ball for Haynes (5-11, 223) the rest of the season. It is obvious he has won Coach Mark Richt's confidence. "We can count on him as a runner, as a blocker and as a pass receiver,'' Richt said Saturday. "He's a guy who will wrap up and protect the football.'' Richt calls Haynes "probably the most well-rounded (running back) I've been around.''

Even before Haynes' role increased the last two weeks, Richt had often said that if he needed help at tailback, he probably would turn to Haynes before giving one of two true freshmen — Tony Milton or Mike Gilliam — playing time this year.

Haynes was the intended receiver on the first play of the game, when Terrence Edwards caught a lateral from David Greene and then attempted to connect with Haynes for a big gain. Vanderbilt was called for pass interference on the pass for Haynes, but he remained a big part of the gameplan.

"It feels good,'' Haynes said before passing along his motto: "Success comes before work only in the dictionary.'' A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Haynes attended North Springs High School in Atlanta and signed with Western Kentucky, where he rushed for 305 yards on a 10-2 team as a true freshman in 1997. Haynes then transferred to Georgia, sitting out the 1998 season and spending most of 1999 on special teams. Haynes was a part-time starter last year but had only 10 carries for 46 yards.

With Musa Smith (hip-flexor) and Jasper Sanks (shoulder) less than full speed, it is possible Haynes could see more time with the ball next week against Kentucky.

"It always feels good when you contribute to the team,'' Haynes said. "Coach Richt is going a great job of calling the plays. If you are a player who is going to make plays, he wants to get the ball to those people.'' said Richt: "We're going to make sure we get him enough touches, because he deserves them.''

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