A jam-packed summer has only just begun for the top running back in the 2023 class.
The home stretch of Justice Haynes‘s recruitment began last weekend with an official visit to Georgia. The rest of June will see him take official visits to Florida (June 10-12), Alabama (June 17-19), and Ohio State (June 24-26).
Rivals caught up with Haynes to discuss his Georgia official and preview the rest of his summer visits.
On his OV to Georgia: “Official visit went great. Got to spend with some time with some great guys I was there with, some of my really good friends, but also I got to see what Georgia had to offer. My thing going into all my official visits was wipe it all clean, no favorites, no nothing, give the school the best ability to show what they have and take it from there.”
On Georgia’s “Legacy to Legend” message: “My dad had a tremendous career there and he did tremendous things in the league. He’s given me the knowledge and the ability, he’s given me the ability to be where I am right now and also just helping me with recovery that he did, trying to make me better than him. Then when we go to legacy to legend, the whole thing was my dad was a legacy there, but then me being a legend. That’s the vision that they see for me. That’s something that is really dope.”
On if there’s anything in particular he wants to see on his remaining officials: “With all my officials in general, I just want to get that at home feeling, the feeling you get in your gut that this is the place for me. I’ve seen with all the schools, they all have great facilities, they’re all going to have great coaching staffs because they’re all high-level schools. Everything’s going to be there. Also, just connecting with the players, seeing how the players feel about the coaches. When you go on an unofficial visit, you’re not really with the players. You’re kind of there looking at the facilities, things that I’ve seen. But the things that I haven’t seen are like the player aspect, what do the players think about the coaches and stuff like that, so really picking their brains about that.”
On Alabama: “Alabama, just the development part, making it to the league, the winning culture. Alabama’s Alabama, they’re always going to be on the top. I feel like they’ve been on the top for decades. They just continue to keep winning. The relationship I have with Coach (Robert Gillespie, running backs) is really strong, Coach (Travaris Robinson, cornerbacks), I was just texting him just now before I got in this interview. I’m really close with those two guys. Just can’t wait to get down there.”
On Ohio State: “So Coach (Tony Alford, running backs) and I have built a really strong relationship. He’s told me that I’m the guy he wants in the class. We’re just continuing to build a strong relationship. We talk multiple times a day. Ohio State, I have tremendous respect for them and just can’t wait to get back up. Me and Trey Henderson and also Evan (Pryor) have built a really strong relationship. We text about every day.”
On if Henderson’s success as a freshman gives him believe he can contribute right away: “Definitely. I love the way Coach Alford does it. He doesn’t care if you’re a freshman or you’re a senior, the best man’s going to play. You go out and put in the work, you go and do what you need to do, you’re going to play. I love how Coach Alford develops his backs. When I was up there on my unofficial, just picking my brains, the details, showing me stuff. He knows what he’s talking about.”
On Florida: “Before Coach (Billy) Napier got there, I really wasn’t talking to Florida like that. When Coach Napier got there, he extended me an offer. Then it really took off from there. Coach Napier’s stayed persistent, he’s stayed committed to his word, what he said. Same with Coach (Jabbar Juluke, running backs), stays on me, stayed consistent. I went on my visit there during spring break, it was my spring break. I went on my visit there during my spring break, loved it. The coaching staff, what blew my mind was how big the coaching staff is and how many people they have. Then the facilities, everything, the great culture going around over there. Coach Napier’s really taken his Clemson aspect of what he had at Clemson, the people aspect of it, and then the Alabama side with the winging tradition Alabama has. He’s kind of put it into his own little thing. I love what Coach Napier’s building over there. I actually go there (today), so I’m looking forward to it.”
On the aspect of his Florida unofficial that made him want to return for an official: “The love, definitely the love. As soon as I walked in the building, there were probably like however many people, the whole staff was down there. The energy, it was kind of similar out here at Buford, the energy and how uplifting people were and just the whole culture.”
On his commitment timeline: “At the same time, still putting it in God’s hands. But the plan is as of right now is to commit in July, August. I’d like to get it done before the season, just focus on the season, be able to focus on going to win a state championship with my guys.”
Georgia has seemed to be the leader for Haynes for a while now. That still appears to be the case, with Ohio State not far behind. Florida’s rise has been a mercurial one, from off the radar to now receiving Haynes’s second official visit. A home run official visit could elevate the Gators to that top level of contenders, but Georgia still has to be considered the favorite.