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Georgia's Haynes Gets the Chanceto Show He's More Than a Backup

October 21, 2001|Jim Barrero

USC may have Sunny Byrd, but Georgia has its own version of a little-known player moving his way up the depth chart to produce.

Meet Verron Haynes.

Never heard of him? Many said the same of Byrd before his breakout performance against Arizona State on Oct. 13.

Haynes has had to jump through the same kind of hoops to be noticed by Coach Mark Richt, but his hard work finally has paid off.

Haynes, who had only 22 carries in his previous two seasons with the Bulldogs since transferring from Western Kentucky, has become a vital member of the Georgia backfield.

In a 43-29 victory against Kentucky on Saturday, Haynes filled in for tailback and leading rusher Musa Smith, who sat out with a groin injury. This came after catching the game-winning touchdown in a 26-24 upset of Tennessee on Oct. 6.

Against Kentucky, Haynes carried 14 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns, both on one-yard runs. He also had three receptions for 73 yards and another score.

"If you make plays, you get the ball," Haynes said leading up to the Kentucky game. "Coach Richt said to me, 'Get ready. You're going to be used a little bit more."

So he has. And now Haynes is eyeing the NFL to continue a Georgia tradition that has produced backs such Herschel Walker and Garrison Hearst. But Haynes prefers to be inspired by the likes of Olandis Gary and Terrell Davis, both of whom were overshadowed during their days at Georgia yet have become NFL standouts.

"We're all hard workers," Haynes said of past Georgia backs. "If you believe is us and give us a chance, we'll get the job done."

And what does Richt think? "I think the NFL is going to be very interested in Verron," Richt said, "because he's very versatile."

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