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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2023 Notre Dame RB Target Justice Haynes Has Seen What It Takes

March 8, 2021
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Having spent four seasons with Jerome Bettis in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back room, Verron Haynes is plenty familiar with Notre Dame.

“We would sit around and tell your war stories,” says Haynes, who was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2002 after playing his college ball at Georgia.

“Jerome had vivid and really lucid stories about his time there it just made it so surreal and so cool. He will make you feel like you are there. He puts life to every story that he tells. He's passionate about it and that resonated through his words and it’s such a unique place to have played his collegiate career.”

Haynes describes Bettis and the other Domers he met during his time in The League as “classy.”

“The characteristics of Jerome, he’s salt of the earth,” says Haynes. “He honestly has changed my family in a tremendous way. He showed me how to be a professional on and off the field.

“When I first got drafted to the Steelers, it was toward the tail part, the latter part of his career. He wasn't the starter anymore, but his job so to speak was to keep the locker room and give that fatherly and veteran leadership that is so much needed in the League now. You just have more of an appreciation for what he did.”

So, when his son, 2023 Georgia running back Justice Haynes‍, landed an offer from the Irish last month, Haynes knew what it meant.

As a child, Justice Haynes was exposed to an NFL locker room & NFL work ethic. 

“Notre Dame is one of the premier schools and such a huge offer coming this early,” Mr. Haynes says. “Justin is still a sophomore and this is still kind of like surreal to me.

“Such a rich tradition that they have. They're one of the classiest, most prestigious universities and oldest that's been around for such a long time.”

Bettis was Justice’s favorite player – even over his dad – as a kid. He was tagged “Just The Bus,” which became “Bussy,” a nickname that he carries with him to this day.

The Blessed Trinity Catholic High School star also has offers from schools like Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Penn State, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Stanford and Oregon among many others.

He plans to start building relationships with the Irish staff via Zoom calls.

“That will put a face to some of the coaches, which will be great,” his father says.

“Whenever they get to open back up the recruiting and moving around, I think that's definitely one of the schools that you've got to go up there and walk around and just embrace that rich tradition and kind of enhance that. I think that will give us even more beneficial appreciation for the school.”

For now, though, Verron Haynes is advising his son to enjoy the process as much as possible while also building those relationships with coaches and to keep working, which shouldn’t be an issue.

“The one thing that I always say about Justice is that he actually gets the hard work process,” Haynes says. “At the tail end of my career, he would work out with us in the offseason and he saw what went into it. So, he gets that part. I really want him to have an appreciation to enjoy this process of reaping the benefits of what you worked for and then take it all in and really assess a couple of things.

“One, where do you want to be after sports is all over? That's going to be big. You’ve got to keep that in mind as you're going through that. And then two, this is not a four-year investment. This is a 40-year investment.”

As much as he understands the need to grind on the field, the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder has an equal understanding of the importance of putting in the same work off of it.

Academics have always been stressed in the Haynes House.

“Mom does not play about the grades, she does not play,” Haynes says. “I'm being serious. Our oldest daughter is at NYU on a full academic scholarship. Mom does not play with those grades. So, he will always tell you, ‘I'm a student first, then an athlete.’”

Justice is planning to major in Business.

“He is really a student athlete,” his father says. “He really takes his grades seriously, so I really want him to get more out of this than just sports.”

Haynes says the recruiting process has changed plenty since he went through it, but that’s advice he’d share with any parent.

“The methods of how they do things has changed, but I think those are the core messages,” he says. “I think if you keep that all in perspective, you'll turn out to be okay.

“What do you want to do if sports wasn't a part of it? Just take that part away. So, what do you want to do after football? And then two, whenever you drop your kids off, you've got to understand that these are young adolescents who are going to become mature men.

“That four years turns into 40 years and you want to make the right decision with the coach and what kind of characteristics and traits and mentorship that he brings to your kid.

“I think Notre Dame checks all the boxes.”

 
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