Born: June 4, 1977
High School/Colleges: Sullivan South/East Tennessee State, Tusculum, Lincoln Memorial
Then: On a Sunday morning in November 1994, Sam Haynie scanned the Times-News sports section before leaving for church and learned that he was among the finalists for a TSSAA “Mr. Football’’ award.
“I was surprised,’’ he said. “I had no idea that I was under consideration.’’
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound South tackle was later informed he had been tabbed the Class AAA lineman of the year in Tennessee.
Haynie traveled with a contingent of coaches and family members to Nashville for the awards luncheon and returned home that night for the Rebels’ football banquet.
“It was gratifying to bring back the trophy and see how excited our community was that we’d finally broken the ice,’’ he said.
From 1990 to 1997, South had four players — Ralph Nelson, Jeremy Osborne, Haynie and Anthony Nelson — chosen as finalists. Haynie is one of the few players from Northeast Tennessee ever to receive the top honor.
A two-time all-conference player, Haynie was in a class of his own as an offensive/defensive tackle.
His blocking efficiency in 1994 was 95 percent.
For two seasons, opponents had no choice but to target him with double-team blocking, and it opened lanes for linebackers Rusty Byrd and Warren Stevens to stop runners in their tracks.
“Our 50 defense was good for linebackers,’’ Haynie said.
He was a three-year starter under coach Mark Smith, and the Rebels went 27-8, winning two conference championships — the Big 10 and the Mountain Lakes.
As a junior, Haynie knocked down Cocke County quarterback Scott Large to cause a fumble and clinch a 6-0 playoff win. South then lost in the semifinals to Cleveland, a school that was 45-0 with three state titles over three seasons.
As a senior, ,Haynie was voted Mountain Lakes defensive player of the year. He assured South of a 7-0 victory over Sullivan North by ending an 84-yard drive at the 1-yard line with a fourth-down hit on quarterback Ryan Baker.
“My glasses were fogged up and I couldn’t see the scoreboard,’’ Haynie explained. “I asked a teammate how much time was left and I told him, ‘It’s time to get this game in hand.’”
The two-time all-state performer attracted a number of college recruiters. North Carolina, Memphis, Appalachian State and East Tennessee State offered him a scholarship. He was on Tennessee’s standby list, but the Volunteers gave their only two available scholarships to future NFL players.
Haynie settled on the Buccaneers.
“I was too much of a mama’s boy to leave home,’’ he said. “I had a great career at ETSU. That’s where I met my wife and I was pleased that people who knew me had an opportunity to attend the games.’’
Haynie immediately made the starting lineup and became a four- year starter at left offensive tackle. He played two years each under coaches Mike Cavan and Paul Hamilton, and they liked his quick feet and technique. He was the Bucs’ fastest lineman as a junior and senior.
His first game — at Troy State — was televised.
“I knew when we broke the huddle that I wasn’t in high school anymore,’’ he said. “Two of Troy State’s defensive linemen went on to play in the NFL.’’
Haynie suffered a broken hand playing against Marshall and missed the last four games of his freshman year. The Bucs didn’t fare well until late in the season. Having to play the first six games on the road, they were 0-7 before closing with four wins in a row.
The winning carried over to Haynie’s sophomore year. ETSU went 10-3 to tie a school record for victories. The other 10-win season belonged to the squad that defeated Terry Bradshaw’s Louisiana Tech team in the 1969 Grantland Rice Bowl.
Two of the three losses were to Marshall and Montana, teams that finished 1-2 in the Division I-AA playoffs. Randy Moss and Chad Pennington played for Marshall. The Bucs lost in the snow at Montana. ETSU’s first-ever playoff victory came against Villanova that year.
When Haynie was a junior, ETSU finished 7-4 but missed the 1997 playoffs. Along the way, the Bucs defeated Appalachian State 51-28 by rolling up a school-record 707 offensive yards and never punting.
That same season ETSU rallied from a 28-10 halftime deficit to beat Furman 58-28. Haynie particularly enjoyed the win because Jeremy Osborne, his South sidekick, was one of Furman’s top players.
As a senior, Haynie had to go against some heavy hitters.
The Bucs’ record was 4-7 with an upgraded schedule. ETSU played Miami, a team that defeated UCLA to send Tennessee to the Fiesta Bowl for its national championship. The Hurricanes had Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne. Haynie, at tackle, and teammate Travis Crusenberry, at guard, had to face defensive tackle Damione Lewis and defensive end Derrick Ham. Lewis was the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft. Ham ranked third in the country with 17.5 sacks but got none against the Bucs.
The Bucs also met Mississippi State, which later played Tennessee for the Southeastern Conference championship. Two of the Bulldogs’ star players were tackle Floyd “Pork Chop’’ Womack and All-Pro cornerback Fred Smoot.
Haynie, twice an All-Southern Conference selection, was evaluated by 10 different NFL clubs. The Minnesota Vikings asked if he wanted to give NFL Europe a try and he told them no.
“I should have hired an agent,’’ he said.
Now: Haynie, promoted to head coach at South last February after nine seasons as an assistant, is married to the former Kaley Ray of Fredericksburg, Va. She is an occupational therapist. They have three children — Isaac, 6, and 4-year-old twin daughters Madison and Rylee.
Bill Lane is a Times-News sports writer. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.