Card have their hands on Haynes

Four-star wide receiver James Haynes (West Orange-Stark HS, Orange TX) is one of Texas' top athletes. Haynes talked earlier this week with The Bootleg, offering the latest on his favorites, his timeline and, of course, his thoughts on last weekend's NFL draft.

"I think I have 14 or 15 offers," James Haynes said. "Texas Tech, Stanford, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, SMU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Houston [and Kansas and Colorado] have all offered. Oklahoma State is also showing interest."

Over the last few months, Haynes has taken several unofficial visits in an attempt to narrow down that list of college suitors.

"I've taken unofficial visits to Texas A&M, LSU, Texas and Oklahoma," Haynes said. "Oklahoma, Florida, Stanford and Texas A&M are probably my top four schools right now. "My list changes all the time though - it never stays in one spot."

Haynes added that he intends to take an unofficial visit to Florida as well as an official visit to Stanford before he commits. He said that he has no timetable for making that decision.

"I think I'm going to make my choice whenever I feel it's right," he said. "I don't want to make a commitment too soon and then go back on my word. Whenever I make my commitment, I want it to be to the school that I'm going to."

Fortunately for Cardinal fans, distance will not be one of the major factors in Haynes' decision.

"I wasn't originally trying to go away too far from home," Haynes said. "But for my career, I want to go somewhere I feel that will make me the best player. I think distance was at first but is no longer a determining factor in my recruitment. I'll be able to come see my family when I want to, but I'm going to go wherever I want to go."

"All my top schools have tradition, great academics, a family atmosphere and they win," Haynes said. "If they aren't winning, the program is building."

While Stanford may not be able to match the recent on-field success of a Florida, an Oklahoma or some other schools recruiting Haynes, the Cardinal do have an advantage in one area.

"They are the No. 2 academic school in the nation," Haynes said. "And they have a football team."

Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh has made bringing's No. 38 wide receiver to Palo Alto a personal mission, according to Haynes.

"I really talk to the head coach Jim Harbaugh more than anybody else on the staff," said Haynes, which is rare given the number of assistants on the staff and recruits to be contacted. "He's a great guy. He knows what he's talking about. Football is his family. Even if he were to have any kind of problem, he could just turn to his brother or anybody."

Unlike some of the big-name schools on Haynes' list, who are recruiting Haynes as a defensive back, Stanford is looking at Haynes with more of an open mind.

"Stanford basically said I could play wherever I want to play," Haynes said. "I'd probably have to look at the team to make my decision on where I want to play. Right now, I'm leaning towards defense for all my schools. Florida, Oklahoma and a couple other big schools are looking at me for defensive back. For them to look at me for defensive back, I'm guessing my career will be leaning more towards that way.

Haynes certainly has the physical tools to play on either side of the ball.

"I ran a 4.36 forty-yard dash at a national underclassman combine," Haynes said. "I did a 42-inch vertical jump at Texas Tech. I benched 185 nine or ten times. My 20-yard shuttle is 4.08 seconds and my standing broad jump was 10' 8". [Ed: Hey, at least I can almost match his bench.]

Despite the gaudy numbers, however, Haynes still sees room for growth in his game.

"I think I'd like to be more aggressive," Haynes said. "I think I'm pretty aggressive right now, but I want to have more of a killer instinct. I want to get more big hits, some of those ‘ooohh' hits. In general, you need to get better daily to be a better player. If you're not getting better, you're just getting worse."

Haynes also has standout ability in the classroom.

My GPA right now is, I think, a 3.9," the future sports medicine major said. "My SAT is an 1100 for the two-part, reading and math, but I'm going to go back and retake it. That was just my first time taking it so I hadn't studied. My teacher said I shouldn't study for it the first time and that I should go into the test blind to see what my weaknesses are, and then concentrate on that for my next time around.

With Haynes' academics abilities he should have no trouble finding success in sports medicine, if he does indeed land there. But after listening to Haynes share his thoughts on last weekend's NFL draft, it would appear he also has considerable talent as a sports journalist.

"I was surprised [wide receiver] Michael Crabtree was the second wide receiver taken," Haynes said of the former Texas Tech star, taken 10th overall. "It shows you that no matter how good you are, different people have different opinions. For that team [Oakland], they'd rather have speed than good hands. Crabtree barely missed any balls, but that other guy [Maryland wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey], who had the fastest wide receiver time at the combine had two games where he didn't catch a ball. It shows you can be the best player and still not be picked first."

Indeed, speed kills, and Haynes has it in droves. Stay tuned to see which college ultimately lands the quick WR/DB.

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