2009 Intro: Michael Rhynes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Independence High School's tradition of wide receivers is among the best in the nation.

In the past seven recruiting classes, the Patriots have sent five wide outs to the Division I-A ranks – Mario Raley (Georgia), Eric Lyons (Duke), Mohamed Massaquoi (Georgia), Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina) and Jason Barnes (South Carolina).

Next season, the burden of continuing the tradition falls on Michael Rhynes, a 6-foot-4, 198-pounder with a basketball-esque wingspan.

"It makes me feel like I have big shoes to fill," Rhynes said. "I have a lot to accomplish if I want to follow in their footsteps."

Just like Nicks and Barnes before him, Rhynes has paid his dues on Independence's junior varsity squad and as a varsity backup, and will see his first consistent reps on varsity in his coming senior season.

"Mike's real solid – he's bigger than anyone else in this conference," Independence assistant coach Aaron Brand said. "We're going to try to get him the ball a little more this year. He had a pretty good game against Butler – the first time we played Butler. He scored on a 75-yarder on [Notre Dame signee Robert] Blanton."

Rhynes, who saw his season shorted by a sprained meniscus, also caught a second touchdown pass.

The lack of film hasn't stop schools like Duke, North Carolina, and Tennessee from showing interest in Rhynes.

"With Mike's size and his jumping ability and his improving speed he's a big-time target," Brand said. "He's got big-time hands. Right now, Mike has got to work on getting a little bit faster and getting a better jump off the ball.

"He'll be the strongest one we've had besides Nicks. And he has the same caliber hands as Nicks – big meat hooks that just snatch the ball. I like to compare him more to Barnes with his athletic ability, but with the strength of Nicks."

Heading into the recruiting process Rhynes is favoring three schools.

"I really like [North] Carolina, Clemson, and NC State," Rhynes said. "Carolina, I always watched them on TV and rooted for them. Clemson they seem like they come out with a lot of energy. NC State, it's an in-state school and close to home."

Over the summer, Rhynes will attend several individual camps in addition to Independence's lengthy seven-on-seven passing tournament schedule.

"We always do a lot of seven-on-seven in the summer," Rhynes said. "There's a big one in Wake Forest we go to every year and one at Catawba."

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