Marquis Haynes

Ole Miss DE Marquis Haynes comes from an FSU family, but that all changes Monday night

Ole Miss defensive end and Orlando native Marquis Haynes didn’t grow up a Florida State fan.

But his dad, Maurice, did.

However, that lifelong allegiance will be put to the test in a week. Ole Miss and Florida State will kick off the 2016 season Monday at 7 p.m. CT in Haynes’ hometown. Haynes looks forward to the opportunity, even if his dad doesn’t.

“Growing up in middle school watching Florida State, you know I’m from Orlando, won state championship in high school,” he said. “This is one of the games I’m really looking forward to, going against an ACC team and one of the best teams in the country. My dad used to be a Florida State fan before he became an Ole Miss fan. It’s going to be a good game.”

Unlike Maurice, Marquis didn’t grow up bleeding garnet and gold. No, he rooted for LSU, one of the Rebels’ bitter SEC West rivals. 

But he did always dream of such a stage. The Camping World Kickoff stands alone Monday night, sharing its nationally-televised ESPN audience with no other college or professional game. That Florida State is the opponent is but a bonus for Haynes.

 

“When I first came here it was hard for him to put (his FSU fandom) away because he had been a fan for so long,” Haynes said. “But now the time has come. I get to show my talent against Florida State.”

Marquis Haynes

Haynes was an All-SEC second team selection last season after he tied for fourth among SEC players and 19th in the nation with 10.0 sacks, which matched a school record for a season. He ranked fifth in the SEC and 27th in the nation with 16.5 tackles for loss, good for seventh-most in school history.

Haynes enters the season as a projected early-round NFL Draft pick. But Monday presents a unique opportunity to introduce himself to the college football world, and in a major way. The same goes for the team as a whole. Ole Miss is ranked No. 11 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll. Florida State is No. 4.

“Of course people are going to talk about the situations (off field) and stuff, but we just keep focused on the task at hand and take it one game at a time,” Haynes said. “The end result, if it’s there, we know we achieved our goal of winning the SEC championship. We just focus on the matter at hand. It’s just great to be back in game week; it’s a great feeling. It’s fall now. Everybody’s talking about the first game, high school games. I’m ready to play.”

Haynes and the Ole Miss run defense will face the unenviable task of trying to stop Seminole running back Dalvin Cook. Cook was an All-American last season, averaging 7.4 yards per carry.

“We know we have to stop the run,” Haynes said. “Dalvin Cook is their main guy. Offensive line is getting better too. When we stop the run we’ll be able to have some fun in the backfield.

“Defensively we’ll handle him real well. We’ve got a real game plan for him, and we’re going to shut him down. I’m just going to keep doing what I go, just get off the ball, get in the backfield and create destruction and chaos and see what happens.”


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