The senior defensive lineman from Jacksonville, Florida is the 2017 recipient of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. He stood and posed for pictures with friends, family, coaches and former winners of the award with a beaming smile on Saturday morning.
A wave of emotions ran through him ranging from pride, to surprise to joy as he lifted the casing of a red no. 38 uniform with 'Haynes' embroidered in white across the back. He thought of his father, who played an influential role in Haynes ending up at Ole Miss.
"I talked to my dad last night. He said to wear that number with pride and keep working hard," Haynes said. "That's all I can do right now."
The road to Ole Miss wasn't the easiest for Haynes, and each step of the way he's found motivation to keep pushing, and this award was just another dose of that.
"Winning this award is just going to push me farther and help me give more effort and make Chucky happy," Haynes said.
He and head coach Hugh Freeze each reflected on another time that Haynes needed to be pushed, when he was trying to get into college. His grades were not up to par, and he barely qualified to get into Ole Miss. Freeze talked about Haynes being overlooked by some schools in the recruiting process, and how proud he was of the man Haynes has become today compared to when he arrived on campus three years ago.
"Little things like when he first got here he wouldn't look at you. His head was always down. His body posture was bad. He just didn't have any encouragement or any confidence," Ross Bjork said. "I think one of the things we are in charge of doing is giving these guys hope and positive attitude and a great environment to thrive in so that they can perform to the best of their ability. I think Marquis is the epitome of all of that. You come in as a freshman you don't really know much and then you evolve into this grown young man, and he's a darn good player. It has been really neat to see."
Haynes had 31 total tackles a year ago, and led the team in tackles for loss with 11. He will be a lynchpin in the Ole Miss defense next season, and will do so while sporting a number that means so much to so many at this university.
"This award right here is the best one i've gotten since I came to Ole Miss," Haynes said. "It's better than getting all-freshman SEC. This award means the most to me."
Former teammates, family and friends of Mullins gathered in the Manning Center and ate breakfast. They reflected on Mullins' life and the legacy he left behind. They talked about his energy on and off of the field, before the accident and after. One common theme of the shared memories was that Mullins never quit. He always kept pushing, which is something Haynes has done since the day he arrived in Oxford.
"I was shocked. Ever since I was a freshman I never thought I would be the one to wear 38. I told myself I am never going to get this award," Haynes said. "There were other people that were way better than me. But getting this award today just proves that I have been working hard ever since I got here and I am just going to continue to go forward"