Bucknuts Magazine Excerpts: "Coming Home"

In his time at Ohio State, defensive backs coach Mel Tucker became known as one of the top young assistants in the Big Ten. Tucker took a job with the Cleveland Browns earlier this year, and Michigan State assistant Paul Haynes was hired to come in and fill Tucker's role. In the April 2005 issue of Bucknuts the Magazine, we found out more about Haynes, who comes home to Columbus to take a job with the hometown Ohio State Buckeyes. Click the link for this week's Bucknuts Magazine excerpt.

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In each issue of Bucknuts The Magazine, we have in-depth features on Ohio State football players, coaches and prospects. We also have analysis pieces on the Buckeyes as well as their opponents, the Big Ten and college football world in general. Plus, we have features on OSU athletes in a variety of sports, including men's and women's basketball, hockey, wrestling, baseball and other sports.

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This week's excerpt is from our April 2005 issue. This article is on new football assistant coach Paul Haynes and his return to Columbus:

Headline: Coming Home

By Steve Helwagen

As a high school football player at Columbus DeSales, Paul Haynes enjoyed one of his greatest memories winning a state championship on the field at Ohio Stadium.

That great event happened 20 years ago this fall. It is coincidental that Haynes will be back in the Horseshoe this fall. The former Kent State standout was hired by OSU head coach Jim Tressel in late February to fill the opening created by the departure of defensive backs coach Mel Tucker to the NFL's Cleveland Browns.

"It still hasn't sunk in," admitted the 35-year-old Haynes, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant for John L. Smith at Michigan State. "I have my parents and my family and my high school coaches from DeSales and everybody else calling me. I'm starting to see how big it is."

Haynes' homecoming to Columbus is quite a story. He is truly a self-made man, graduating from DeSales in 1987 and enrolling at Kent State as a walk-on only to become a standout for the Golden Flashes. As a freshman safety, he led the team in interceptions with three. As a sophomore he was the team leader in tackles with 116. After sitting out the 1989 season with a knee injury, he was a starter in 1990 and '91 and wound up his career with 440 tackles, the seventh highest total in Kent State history and the fifth-best effort in NCAA annals by a defensive back. While at Kent State, Haynes played for three head coaches -- Glen Mason, Dick Crum and Pete Cordelli.

He then worked his way up through the coaching ranks including stops at Bowling Green (graduate assistant, 1994), Ferris State (1995-96), Northern Iowa (1997-98), Kent State (1999-2000), the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars (quality control coach, 2001), Louisville (2002) and the last two seasons as the defensive backs coach at MSU. Haynes was the assistant head coach during his stay at Kent State.

"It's a great opportunity for me to come home," Haynes said. "It was a tough decision. My family loved it here. We had a great staff that came up from Louisville. John L. Smith is an excellent head coach and a great guy to work for, but again, it was an opportunity to come home and to have a chance to work at a place like Ohio State is like a dream come true for me."

Haynes said he enjoyed watching the Buckeyes as he was growing up in Columbus.

"All of those guys I looked up to – Pepper Johnson and Chris Spielman and (Art) Schlichter, all those guys," he said. "I've always been a Buckeye fan and followed the Buckeyes. Even during my coaching career, you always look in the paper and see what they were doing and how the program was going."

The DeSales coaching "mafia" helped put the word out that Haynes might be interested in the OSU opening. It took Tressel just nine days to fill the job and announce Haynes' hiring.

"It happened pretty quickly," Haynes admitted. "(OSU assistant and DeSales grad) Luke (Fickell) helped me out a lot. It was kind of a two-way street with a bunch of high school coaches that I've known, some guys who were at DeSales when I was a player. These guys have been following me for a long time and they know the goal I had to come back to Ohio State. When the opportunity arose, I think they blew up Coach Tressel's phone and helped me out a lot.

"And I think it always helps when a guy on staff brings your name up to the head guy because I'm sure he wants to feel comfortable with them knowing a guy. Coach Tressel said he's not the type of guy who likes to shop around quite a bit."

Tressel talked about why Haynes was a good fit for his staff at the present time.

"Paul knows Ohio and also has recruited Georgia and Florida, so that made him a very attractive candidate," Tressel said. "Everyone we talked to had nothing but great things to say about him, and he is very impressive one-on-one. All of our coaches felt like he was going to fit in very nicely on our staff. And I know he is excited about the opportunity to come home."

The transition should be smooth for Haynes, his wife Danita and their three children – Jordyn (10), Tarron (6) and Kennedy Rose (10 months). Much of their family is still in central Ohio.

"Everybody is still in Columbus," Haynes said. "I have two older sisters who moved away from New York, but both of them graduated from Ohio State. These last couple of years have been tough for them. They've had Ohio State headbands and Michigan State T-shirts on. They were so happy when this came about. Everybody can be a full-blooded Buckeye now."

Haynes discussed having the chance to spend three years working with Smith, known in coaching circles as an innovator.

"It's been awesome," he said. "Everything you see is exactly how he is. He is a fun loving, energetic guy. He lets you coach. He treats you well and treats you fair. He's a family guy and a team guy. The players love him. I have learned a lot this last three years and I have learned a lot for my future in coaching."

And he talked about the chance he has to go to work for a coach like Tressel, who boasts five national championships.

"I've had a lot of respect for Coach Tressel for a long time, ever since the time I played against his teams at Youngstown in 1988," Haynes said. "He's a well known name in Ohio. I'm eager to get under his wing and pick his brain and learn a bunch from him. He's been very successful at Youngstown and at Ohio State. He is a very disciplined coach and a very focused coach."

Tucker was one of OSU's strongest recruiters, working well in Cleveland, Georgia and also in Florida, at times. Haynes knows that will be a big part of his responsibilities as well.

"Everywhere I've been – ever since my first job at Ferris State – I have spent time recruiting in Ohio," he said. "I have been in every part of Ohio in my years of coaching. Being from Columbus, I've had a lot of focus in Columbus. But I have also been in Atlanta and all parts of Florida – North Florida, South Florida, Chicago, Michigan, D.C., Maryland. I've been around in a lot of different areas. Hopefully, wherever Coach Tressel sees a need for me to be, I'll get in there and dig some guys out."

Haynes inherits a veteran group of defensive backs. Senior Nate Salley and junior Donte Whitner return at the safety positions with junior Ashton Youboty at corner and junior Tyler Everett at the nickel back spot. The new coach will get his first chance to work this group during spring practice, which starts March 31.

"I'm very excited about this group," he said. "They are very talented and it is a veteran group, which helps. Mel did a great job with those guys. When you first get there, everybody just tries to feel each other out. The faster we can do that and more we've been around each other to build relationships, then the more you can do on the football aspect of it.

"There is a phase where we have to get a feel for each other. I'm kind of looking forward to it. From everything I've heard from everybody, they're great kids. The good thing about having a new coach is that everybody gets a clean slate. All of the guys who maybe did not get an opportunity before will get that chance. I'm very excited to get started."

Haynes may also get a chance to work with sophomore Ted Ginn Jr., who scored three touchdowns against the Spartans in OSU's 32-19 win at East Lansing. There have been rumblings that Ginn would rep at corner as well as receiver beginning this spring.

"He's an exciting football player," Haynes said. "He is definitely a difference maker. I don't know if I will have a chance to work with him or not. I think everybody is trying to lobby for Teddy.

"But the best thing about Ted Ginn is how humble he is. I think that makes him an even better player, maybe, than he is. He goes to work and gets out on the field and doesn't say a lot or do a bunch of showboating. He just gets the job done. His dad has done a great job with him to keep him humble. He's an exciting player, so if I get a chance to work with him that would definitely be a plus."

Haynes already had one chance to coach in Ohio Stadium. MSU visited in 2003, losing 33-23 to the Buckeyes.

"That was actually the first time I had been down on the field since 1985 when I was there for the state championship," Haynes said. "Tony Pusateri, who was my head coach at DeSales, came by the stadium during our walkthrough. I scored a touchdown in that game, so of course I went back to that same spot and remembered that. It was exciting.

"It is very exciting now to look out and have that Scarlet and Gray on and have those people cheering for you."

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