VandyMania Interview: Jovan Haye

VandyMania talked with defensive end and captain Jovan Haye. A 6-foot-3, 255-pounder from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Haye leads the defensive linemen in total tackles (16) and tackles for loss (2) after three games.

VandyMania: Jovan, you started to draw some attention to yourself back in the spring when you won the outstanding defensive player in practice for something like three days in a row.

Jovan Haye: The coaches voted me the outstanding player in practice four days in a row, actually. I really just wanted to come into this practice and prove that I could be the athlete they wanted me to be.

VM: The defensive front has lost some key players since last year, but you guys have really had some young players step in and help you this year.

Jovan: On our defensive front, Ralph McKenzie, Trey Holloway, Matt Clay and A. C. [Aaron] Carter have to perform up to their potential. Chris Booker has added a lot of power and speed, and I have to hold down my part if the D-line is going to be as good as it can be. Robert Dinwiddie, Richard Freeman and Libnir Telusca have really helped out at their positions too. We've also had some freshmen (Jonathan Loyte and Greg Jacobs) who feel like they have something to prove.

VM: You came from Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, and you had a chance to go a lot of places. You had the chance to go to Ohio State, and you probably watched them winning the national championship last year. Have you ever had any second thoughts about your decision to come to Vanderbilt?

Jovan: Watching Miami and Ohio State play, two years in a row, I realize I could have gone to either school. But I chose to come to Vanderbilt because I wanted a great education. I wanted the opportunity to play in the SEC. I don't regret it at all, because I knew what I was getting into. I never really wanted to be a part of a program that was already winning. I wanted to be a part of something special.

VM: This class that you're a part of, that's now in its third year on campus, has really taken on an amazing amount of leadership-- in fact, you and Jay Cutler are captains as redshirt sophomores. What do you think it is that's so special about that class?

Jovan: Coming in here in 2001, I knew that the class of 2001 was going to be the class that takes Vanderbilt over the top. I think every class under us has taken what we've done on the field and in the classroom and tried to help get us better. I think the class of 2001 really has set a standard.

VM: You were recruited by the Woody Widenhofer staff... you were redshirted your first year, and then the Widenhofer staff was dismissed. Did you ever have any thoughts of leaving at that point?

Jovan: No. I knew whatever coaching staff Vanderbilt was going to bring in was going to be a good coaching staff. I just think we really have to be able to trust our coaches, and our coaches have to learn to trust us. Eventually this program is going to get turned around.

VM: You had to get to know a whole new head coach in Coach Johnson, and a new defensive line coach in David Turner. What has it been like to work under those two guys?

Jovan: Coach Turner knows so much about the game. He watches so much film. He always coaches us to use our proper technique-- do this on certain plays, do that on others. Coach Turner really knows his stuff. As far as Coach Johnson, he's very disciplined, straightforward. He doesn't put up with any B.S.

VM: You are a captain for the defense, and Justin Geisinger is a captain for the offense. I know you guys play against each other in practice almost every day. Talk about what it's like to go against a guy like that every day.

Jovan: Justin is just an outstanding offensive tackle. He gives his best on every play. You really get better going against a guy like Justin. You have to play against guys like him in the SEC week in and week out.

VM: As a player, what really gets you charged up... a sack? A big loss? What's the most exciting play for you?

Jovan: It has to be third-and-long. On third-and-long, you know the chances of the offense running the ball are very slim. That's when all 11 guys turn it up a notch and give their best effort.

*****

Top photo by John Russell, Associated Press. Lower photo by Mark Humphrey, Associated Press.


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