It's been only six practices this spring training, but already one of the stalwarts — DE Marquis Haynes — is singing the praises of his new position coach and his new defensive coordinator.
"Coach (Wesley) McGriff is a big plus for us. He’s going to demand the best from us, and we appreciate it. He pushes us more and more and that will only make us better and better," noted Haynes. "As for Coach (Freddie) Roach, he teaches more detail than Coach (Chris) Kiffin did. More technique. It's basically the same stuff, but they get there differently. I liked playing for Coach Kiff and I already like playing for Coach Roach.
"Coach Roach goes into more details and makes sure we understand things before he moves on to something else. I like that."
Haynes had a decision to make after the Egg Bowl — go to the NFL or stay for his final season. He turned to Hugh Freeze and his parents for counsel.
"After talking to the people I trust, and realizing what I need to do, it wasn’t a hard decision at all to come back," he said. "I have to work on my techniques, get bigger, get stronger and get my degree. Then I’ll be ready fro the next step."
Freeze wants Haynes to get to 240 pounds. He’s currently 230 and has difficulty gaining weight.
"For me, it’s really hard to put on weight, but I’ve grown 30 pounds since I’ve been here," he noted. "I need 10 more pounds to be able to play the run better and reach my potential, in my opinion. I just have to eat and eat and eat to get it packed on. My girl is a good cook, so I should get there."
Last year, the Rebel defense was, well, abysmal at times. In fact, most of the time.
"That wasn't us. We’re motivated to prove it wasn't us. We want to be the Landshark defense again. I think we are looking in that direction," Haynes added. "I like that the new coaches are taking things slowly and that Coach McGriff wants to keep things simple so we can play downhill. We’re already playing faster than we were last year.
“We’re going to surprise a lot of people next year. I have faith in my team. We’ll be Landsharks again."
As for the self-imposed bowl ban, Haynes said he is using that for motivation as well, even though that’s way in the rearview mirror.
"I don't even think about it anymore, but it has motivated me because I know we only have 12 games to prove ourselves and every game is going to be special to us," he closed.
If the Landshark defense comes back, marquee Marquis will be one of the catalysts and stars.That would come as no surprise to Rebel fans.