Bryce Haynes doesn’t get the same admiration as other football players. He’s free to walk anywhere on Ohio State’s campus without being bothered for a picture, but such is the life of a long-snapper.
Haynes, a Pinecrest Academy graduate in 2011, played receiver and defensive end in high school, but it wasn’t until his junior year that he earned long-snapping duties. He honed his abilities with Chris Rubio, deemed the top long-snapping instructor in the nation, and the scholarship offers rolled in.
Haynes, now a redshirt sophomore, was regarded as the No.1 long-snapper in the nation and pulled in offers from Arkansas, Harvard, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Ohio State before committing to the Buckeyes on Jan. 28, 2011.
"It all boils down to muscle-memory and having confidence in your skill," Haynes said. "There’s a lot to [long-snapping]."
According to national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell of Rivals.com, scholarships given to FBS long-snappers out of high school or junior college have increased about 20 percent since 2006, with big-name schools leading the movement.
"I think a lot of people underappreciate it, as far as that goes," Haynes said. "I’d say that [the coaching staff] wants the ball back [to the punter] in under 0.8 seconds, and that’s pretty hard to do, especially at 15 yards. I don’t think many people know how fast that is. And a big thing people don’t know is most of my snaps, and those of college snappers, are about 45 miles per hour, so I mean, that’s pretty fast."
The 6-foot-3, 222-pounder is just as talented in the classroom as on the field. He is a biology major with aspirations of becoming a doctor, though he isn’t sure what kind of doctor he’d like to become. Even summer break provides no rest, as he is taking molecular genetics and an organic chemistry lab.
Haynes was also named a two-time scholar-athlete, a Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholar and an Academic All-Big Ten Conference honoree, all while touting a 3.70 GPA.
"It can be really tough," Haynes said. "It’s definitely a challenge balancing the time you get, especially during the season. I’m taking two of my harder classes now to get them out of the way."
Transitioning from a Class A high school football stadium that holds around 1,000 fans to a premier Division I football program with a stadium capacity of 102,329 was eye-opening for Haynes.
"I’m not going to lie, it was a big difference," Haynes said. "Running out of the tunnel the first day at The Shoe…the first game I played in I was pretty nervous and before we went [on the field], I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it.’
"I was kind of nervous about it in the huddle, but as soon as I got out there and ran over the ball, you’re just not thinking about the crowd, it’s something you’re not thinking about. You feel like you’re just on the field playing football. It’s kind of weird, but it’s also cool because it takes your mind off being in front of so many people."
Although the Buckeyes finished last season 12-0 under first-year head coach Urban Meyer, they were ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA infractions that led to the removal of long-time head coach Jim Tressel.
Ohio State will likely start the 2013 season with a top-5 ranking and could play for a national championship if the Buckeyes take care of business.
"I think the expectations are really high," Haynes said. "I think there’s a chance, and obviously everything has to go as planned and anything could happen to mess that up, but we just have to stay focused and if we do, I have a good feeling we could be playing for a national championship game at the end of the season. [But], the goal is to win the Big Ten title first and foremost."