VU's holy terror on defense has a soft side, too

To opposing quarterbacks, he's a holy terror... a relentless, menacing, fire-breathing monster who wreaks devastation in the backfield. But as you'll discover in this candid VandyMania interview, there's a softer side to Jovan Haye as well. VU's All-SEC defensive end candidate talks about the team, the upcoming season, and some of his surprising off-the-field interests.


Q: Jovan, is it going to feel good when you finally get to put the uniform back on?

Jovan Haye: Laughs. Man, that's what I want to do! Put on my uniform and my helmet, I mean. Lots of guys complain about their helmet... but man, I can't wait!

Q: What can you tell us about some of the 7-on-7 drills, some of the informal workouts you guys have had this summer with some of the other college teams that are close by?

Jovan: Well, football is not one of those sports that you can just get up and play every day. That's why we do 7-on-7 drills, to keep us in shape, and to see what kinds of different offenses Western Kentucky and MTSU would run. It's just one of several little things to keep us busy during the off-season, because there's not a best way. We organize the 7-on-7, do a lot of watching film together, stuff like that. It keeps the days going by.

Q: The last two seasons have certainly not been as successful as the team would have liked. What's it going to take to get some of that respectability back, and for people to take Vanderbilt more seriously?

Jovan: Just winning. Having a winning season this year. Beating some of the tougher ones of our SEC opponents. I think what we've done has turned some people's heads, but we haven't gotten them all the way around. I think having a winning season will definitely get everybody's focus on Vanderbilt.

Q: In order to be taken seriously, you have to buy into the concept that the coach is pitching out there. Do you think the team has really bought into that yet?

Jovan: Oh, Coach Johnson definitely has our respect. We love the direction that this program is heading. We're all in the same boat together.

Q: Was there a time during the season last year when you began to see things turn for the better? Or was it during summer workouts or spring drills that you began to see a difference?

Jovan: I think the program has grown over the off-season. With the off-season this year, I think everybody was really supportive, trying to get better. Last year's season... just being in so many close games, I mean closer than ever, taking it into the fourth quarter, I think that was really big. So I think we're all seeing this program steadily start rising. We're having to learn how to win... yeah, I like to use that term. You can't win until you learn how.

Q: When you take a look at the schedule, obviously, you've got to take one game at a time, it's a marathon not a sprint... all the usual coachspeak that I'm sure you're listening to. But when you look at the upcoming season, what are some games that hold some special meaning for you?

Jovan: I really think all the games. My biggest goal when I came here was just to enjoy the SEC... all the rivalries, all the stadiums, all that stuff. We're playing every game, even the out-of-conference games, as though they're big. I'm just looking forward to playing football, basically. There's no one game that stands out the most.

Q: Have you been able to see any of the new defensive linemen on campus yet that are coming in this fall? Have you seen any that look like they could help the team right away?

Jovan: Oh, yeah. I think we've had like 13 freshmen that have been here so far this summer. David Carter, Jeremy Gales, those guys have been around for a while. Brandon Holmes too. I think these guys are really going to be able to help. We needed depth at defensive line last year, and I think we've really got it now.

Q: How about a guy like Greg Jacobs? It seems like Greg is a guy that has a lot of potential.

Jovan: Oh, Greg has a lot of potential. I like to call him "Little Pollack" just to fluster him. I mean, he's got a shape kind of like [Georgia defensive lineman] David Pollack, but he's got a motor too. Hopefully Greg will come through this year and become a really good backup, or wherever they play him, even competing for a starting spot.

Q: If you had to put your money on whom you think is going to start at that other defensive end position, whom would you say?

Jovan: Whoever the best guy is. Aaron Carter is the starter right now. I just hope Aaron can keep his position, and that it helps the team get better. But we're all in it together. Whoever the starter is, it really doesn't matter. There's going to be a lot of rotation, so it really doesn't matter who the starter is.

Q: You said Kelechi Ohanaja advised you on what to wear to Media Days... is he kind of your fashion consultant?

Jovan: Laughs. Oh, yeah, he's one of my biggest consultants. He kind of keeps me at bay. He did a great job of picking the suit. All it's gotten for me is a ton of compliments. So he did a great job, and I've got to give credit to him. He's my roommate and one of my best friends on the team. I don't like to put one friend above each other, on a plateau or anything. But he's definitely one of my best friends.

Q: You're going to be a senior this year in the classroom [but a junior on the field]. What's your situation with that? Will you definitely look at coming back for a fifth year?

Jovan: Yeah, I definitely want to come back for a fifth year. I'll probably graduate in the spring, and that will mean picking up an extra minor, in Women's Studies, so that I can come back for that fifth year of eligibility.

Q: Did you say Women's Studies?

Jovan: Yeah! I've always been interested in women's issues.

Q: What do you think you might do with that?

Jovan: Maybe work in a women's center some day, you never know. There are a lot of options, but I just like Women's Studies. It's a great field.

Q: Are there a whole lot of other males who major in Women's Studies?

Jovan: Oh yeah! A whole lot of guys are. Ronnie Swoopes, one of our backup safeties, he's in there too. He's taken a lot of classes. Our starting guard, Mac Pyle, he's in there. So we have a lot of guys, some of the baseball players too, who are in Women's Studies.

Q: When you were talking about Kelechi, you referred to him as "Q". Where does that come from? Is that a nickname?

Jovan: Yeah, we call him "Q", short for "Q Cutty."

Q: Where in the world does that come from?

Jovan: I don't know. Laughs. Top Stories