On Wednesday, the Florida Gators hosted one of the top prospects in the country and his family on campus for an important unofficial visit.
Running back Justice Haynes (5-10, 200, Roswell, GA. Blessed Trinity Catholic) was on campus with his father Verron and his mom on Tuesday.
Haynes’ father Verron spoke with GatorCountry about the visit as they described it as the best visit they’ve been on.
“Excellent. By far the best so far, hands down, and I say that because it’s the truth,” Haynes said. “Mom and I talked to Justice on the way back, and we were like, ‘You earned that. I didn’t in high school.’ He’s set himself up to be one of the top-tier guys depending on what platform you are looking at, one to three, whatever, top-3. ‘That’s because of your hard work,’ and they should do some homework and dive in and see your interests, and stuff should be all different kind of way, for that matter. We’re going to dive in and do our research, right?”
Verron who played for the Georgia Bulldogs and his mom who went to Florida felt the family environment that Billy Napier has tried to create in Gainesville.
“It truly is. It’s a family, but here’s the thing,” he said. “I see it, and he’s [Napier] given credit to everybody else, the right hiring’s, totally passing the buck, but it starts with him. No doubt about it. What I told him is I see it as the two organizations who are revered highly in the NFL, which are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots. It’s kind of like they get it right. They may miss one year here or there, but you know they’re going to figure some stuff out, and, that way, a lot of teams are trying to emulate. It starts on top with how the organization is ran. You don’t see coaches going through and a lot of volume and turnover and stuff like that. They kind of have a system that works, and I see him trying to implement that.”
When Napier arrived in Gainesville he set out on a mission to hire an army of support staff so that no detail would go unnoticed and that attention to detail is what stood out to the Haynes’ family on Wednesday.
“Well, the attention to detail,” Haynes said on what made this visit different. “Again, I say that, and, when we got there, it wasn’t one person. Somebody came and got us, but the whole staff, everybody was downstairs. He put the pressure on them. Mike P [Peterson] is a good friend of mine. We played football together at Atlanta, and he’s on staff, so I was able to get a lot of backdrop and a look inside the program and what he’s trying to build. Mike P was a big fan, and I trust him wholeheartedly. He was on board with exactly what Napier said and is trying to build, what he’s trying to implement. But, more so, the proof is in the pudding. A lot of people tell you things, but it’s actually the facts that matter. Whenever you do have a top university as far as education, top-5, that matters, but the attention to detail when you go over things.”
The attention to detail carried over to the football aspect of things as well when running backs coach Jabbar Juluke and Billy Napier broke down film with Haynes and his family.
“That’s where the hands on and I could tell they knew details,” he said. “They just showed similar plays, they went through our own playbook and their playbook where they ran same plays that we ran, maybe different formation or personnel but same plays. He was able to show him, give constructive criticism and feedback. It wasn’t just one play; he went through a multitude of plays and then Napier said something when met with him. He said ‘I got a real appreciation for Justice at the Under Armour game. That’s where he plateaued up on our board and I said we want that guy.’ That showed me he dug a little bit deeper.”
Not only did the coaching staff impress the Haynes family but the off the field staff and how in touch they were with the staff impressed the family and reassured Mr. Haynes that Justice would be in good hands if he was to pick Florida for college.
“That’s so reassuring,” Haynes said. “That helps the people like Coach J [Juluke] or Mike P and the rest of the staff do what they do best because now you’re trusted hands after them. There’s no drop off, you’re only as good as your weakest link and if there’s none and the same attention to detail is still upheld when they leave then there’s no drop-off. It’s the nature of the business, they have to go back on the road to recruit and they were frank about it and I loved that. That’s another thing, they didn’t just tell you what you wanted to hear, they gave me the truth. I loved that.”
Up next for Haynes will be official visits but only one is set at this time as the running back is still in the process of figuring out who else will get a visit.
“We have one scheduled right now to the University of Georgia for the 3rd through the 5th of June but other than that, Justice is still looking,” he said. “That’s why he hasn’t come out with a list, he’s very strategic, he’s not the type that’s going to say something because it sounds good. We call him an old soul in a young kid’s body. He’s mature for his age, he’s going to do his homework and then he will come out with a list. He wants to get it right.”
Heading into the visit the Gators were most likely on the outside looking in but Wednesday really helped Florida’s chances of receiving a visit.
“I tell you what, I’ll be quite frank before going to see what Florida has to offer, I wasn’t 100 percent sure they were going to make the list,” Haynes said. “I think they definitely helped themselves, mom went there, and it was good for her to be back. She was just going to see the old dorms and stuff but she was blown away herself.