KENT: New football coach Paul Haynes separated himself from the ways of Darrell Hazell pretty quickly on the first day of spring practice.
For much of his practices, Hazell was the shark, quietly lurking around midfield and surveying each positional group before a flurry of action at the end.
Haynes is the bulldog determined to get in your face from the first whistle. He jumps around from group to group, barking instructions and giving quick critiques in-between reps. At one point, he grabbed a pad and got in on the action. Later, he took safeties Fabrice Pratt and Jordan Italiano aside for about 15 minutes to give them specific instructions.
“I made [safeties coach Jeff] Burrow give me a group during individuals so I could coach them,” Haynes said. “I’m not a stand-around guy. I probably never will be, just because, for one, I have bad knees — when I stand around, they start to hurt. Plus, I gotta be involved. I gotta be involved in some way, some how. You’ll probably never see me standing there. I’ll probably never change until I can’t move.”
Haynes was wearing shorts at practice Tuesday morning in Dix Stadium — despite 30-degree weather and occasional snow flurries. Hazell had always worn a couple of layers, topped with a windbreaker, nearly every day without fail in cold weather. Haynes was the only person on the field not bundled up. He says the shorts are here to stay.
“I’m a shorts guy. ... I’m totally different than Darrell,” Haynes said. “You’ll actually see my legs. This is the first time you’ve seen the coaches’ legs in two years. I get too hot because I do move around.”
Safety Luke Wollet lit up when asked how the first practice with Haynes went. The added energy is appreciated.
“It’s definitely a changeup,” he said. “It’s a good changeup, something we needed. Coach Haynes and coach Hazell are different people. Both are great coaches. ... He [Haynes] is someone we’re excited to go to battle with.”
Golden helmets for now
The Flashes put on their gold helmets from the GoDaddy.com Bowl game, though they dropped the eagle eyes and the old logo is on the side. But Haynes says the gold helmets are only here for the spring.
“I’m a blue guy. We’re gonna go back to the blue [in the fall].”
Archer to return punts
Dri Archer is still expanding his repertoire and is returning punts. Haynes said that Archer came to him in a meeting and said he wanted to do it, and, of course, Haynes agreed. Because of an NCAA rule about returning kicks or punts, cornerback Darius Polk is leaving Archer as the sole No. 1 on the team and will take No. 11 this season.
“He [Archer] is the one who brought it up,” Haynes said. “He wanted to do it. Then I talked to him after and said you have to do it and he was never opposed to it. It gives us another facet in the game where he can make a play.”
Haynes wants the team’s most explosive player around the ball as much as possible. Archer wants a fourth way (runner, receiver, kickoff returner) to get the ball. Teams are already doing enough to kick it away from him. They’ll now have to do that on kickoffs and punts.
Getting the kinks out
It was only the first day of spring practice under a new coach, so first-day mistakes were expected, and evident. Quarterbacks had some trouble getting the exchanges cleaned up to running backs, and the defensive secondary was a step ahead of the passing game.
Quarterbacks David Fisher and Colin Reardon, the two vying for the starting job this fall, both made strong throws and both were intercepted. Wollet got Fisher on a deep cross, and Nick Cuthbert jumped a route and took a pass from Reardon the other way. Cuthbert is a transfer from Georgia Tech and will have to sit out this season, per NCAA rules. Offensive coordinator Brian Rock wasn’t pleased with the sloppiness from the offense, first day or not.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.