Haynes Embracing Veteran Role in Rebel Defense
Aug. 22, 2017

By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com 

Whether it be the number 38 across his chest or his explosiveness on the edge of the defensive line, senior Marquis Haynes is the undisputed leader of this Ole Miss defense.

It's a unit that is looking to improve after a tough end to last season. The Rebels are now transitioning into South Alabama preparation with the season being under two weeks away, and Haynes is eager to flash the improvement the defense has shown since last fall.

"The difference from last year to this year is that last year we had a couple of guys we were always dependent on filling roles," Haynes said. "This year we have a whole lot of talent on the defense. We just have a bunch of freshmen and a bunch of young guys who are talented. They are really going to contribute to what our scheme is defensively. I cannot wait to get to the first game and see how they play."

Haynes remembers the struggle that was last year defensively just as well as he remembers teetering back-and-forth as to whether he would return for his senior season. He chose to play at Ole Miss for one more year and knew what his role would be from the moment he made the decision.

"My role is just to be a leader and show them the right way to take on blocks and be more physical," Haynes said. "Telling them to find it deep down inside. You've got more, give more."

Haynes has made it a point to coach some younger guys that will have a role this season, like freshman defensive end Ryder Anderson who Matt Luke referenced as a guy that will be a weapon for the Rebels in his first year.

"Like Ryder for example. If we are doing one-on-one with the offensive line. I get that first rep and make sure he gets the second rep," Haynes said. "I always coach him up because he is going to be a big tool for us this year. Same thing with Victor Evans and Qaadir Sheppard. They all look up to me as their role model and for advice on how to be a better pass rusher and more physical."


 

 

The swift development of the aforementioned pupils of Haynes has given Ole Miss the luxury of depth at defensive end, which in turn has allowed them to move guys other places. Charles Wiley, a 6-foot-2 258-pound redshirt freshman, is an example of that.

Wiley's natural slot is defensive end, but with Evans, Sheppard and Haynes already in the rotation there the staff has moved him to defensive tackle.

"You feel like you've got a pretty good rotation in there so you move Charles inside," Luke said." When you have good players  you try to get them on the field. I think they are looking for the right combination of depth."

The Rebels are building depth there too. Luke cited an injury to Benito Jones as a reason for that depth being built. Josiah Coatney and Breeland Speaks got more first-team reps.

"When someone gets hurt, someone steps and gets more reps and gets better. I think that was good for Josiah and Breeland and all of those guys," Luke said.

Wiley naturally felt a little uncomfortable with the move at first but Haynes has helped him realize his potential to help the team at tackle.

"I always tell him to have confidence because you are very young and explosive inside," Haynes said. "You give us the extra boost inside that we need."

Haynes himself has moved around the field in Wesley McGriff's defense. He's moved back to some linebacker in some packages and roamed around the field a bit more.

"I just feel more comfortable with how they are moving me around instead of just having my hand in the dirt," Haynes said.

Ole Miss is inching closer to its season opener and is slowly getting healthier. Jones and wide receiver Van Jefferson were back at practice on Tuesday after missing time with injuries. The Rebels kick off the season on Sept 2.

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