Courtesy of Twitter
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 | 2 a.m.
When Ed Haynes moved to Las Vegas last year, he had no intention of becoming a Division-I football recruit.
Despite growing up in football-crazed Louisiana and possessing the kind of size that would make him a natural in the trenches, Haynes just never really connected with the sport. But when he arrived in the valley and enrolled at Liberty last summer, he was looking for an extracurricular activity.
A year later, Haynes is smashing defenders like a battering ram and ranked as one of the top Class of 2023 prospects in the state.
And oh yeah, he just committed to UNLV.
Not bad for a big kid who picked up the sport on a whim.
“When I moved here, I didn’t even plan to play football,” Haynes said. “I just wanted to try something new. I heard [Liberty] had a good football program, they were the defending state champs. So I went to a summer practice and met with the coaches. I started off as a defensive lineman, but at the time they needed more O-lineman, and I ended up loving it. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Even at 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, it took Haynes a while to learn how to use his size and athleticism to his advantage. His first attempts at blocking were rudimentary at best, and the finer points offensive line play escaped him.
Stunts and other pass-rushing “games” left him confused and grasping at air.
“At first I struggled with being consistent,” he said. “I’d have those plays where you go, ‘Wow, this kid is a DI athlete.’ And then I’d have those plays where you were like, ‘Who is putting this kid on the field?’”
Working with the coaching staff at Liberty, Haynes eventually refined his technique and now counts awareness among his best traits.
His play caught the attention of Arizona State, which became the first school to offer him a scholarship in November 2021. Utah State quickly followed.
That’s when UNLV — a program that hasn’t signed many local recruits under head coach Marcus Arroyo — got involved.
Tight ends coach Nate Longshore was the first to reach out to Haynes on UNLV’s behalf, and the two developed a rapport. Offensive line coach T.J. Woods was then looped in, and Haynes got serious about considering the Scarlet and Gray.
Unlike other Las Vegas-area players who may be disinclined to stay home for college, Haynes was new in town and open to the idea.
After several visits to the campus and considerable time spent weighing his options, Haynes committed on Sept. 16.
“UNLV was on me hard, literally from Day 1 until the day I decided to commit,” Haynes said. “I was like, super ready. I think I had my mind made up probably three months prior to me actually committing. Everyone would tell me I need to slow down and make sure it’s the right decision, but I always felt it was. I think it’s a great decision for me.”
It could turn out to be a great development for UNLV, too. The team is enjoying a breakthrough 2022 season, currently sitting at 3-1 thanks in large part to an offensive line that has been steamrolling opponents.
Liberty coach Rich Muraco thinks Haynes will fit right in.
“Ed’s got everything you look for in an offensive lineman,” Muraco said. “Not only is he big, but he’s long and he’s athletic. He’s still got a tremendous ceiling, because he still has lots of room to grow as far as getting better with his technique. I think that’s what excites a lot of colleges about him — his upside is tremendous. On the high school level, he’s physical, he’s aggressive and he’s pretty dominant in 1-on-1 situations. He’s a really good fit for UNLV, and I’m happy that he’s staying home.”
Haynes is focused on getting Liberty back to the state championship game this season and beating Bishop Gorman, but in the meantime he’s cheering on his future team.
“I love it,” Haynes said of UNLV. “I love their run game so much. It’s literally great. I think my strength is in the run game, and I love how they smash the ball down the opponent’s throat, for sure.”