Great article on Cats new receiver and Olympian - Akeem Haynes


It's taken eight years, but Akeem Haynes is a football player once again.
The Olympic sprinter traded his track spikes for cleats last month, signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Despite not having played football since graduating from high school in 2010, Haynes said his pursuit of a CFL career isn't an experiment.

"This is something I've dreamed of since high school," he said. "I've played the game before, in high school I was basically on the field every single minute (as a quarterback, running back and kick-returner) and I was recruited by Canadian and American schools so I had to be pretty decent.
"Every time I wasn't in track I always played football . . . so I never forgot how to do the things. Maybe I'm coming in and starting from scratch but then again I'm not. I'm a fast learner and I think I'll catch up pretty quickly."

Quick best describes the Jamaican-born Haynes. The 25-year-old Calgary resident was a track all-American at Alabama and served as the leadoff runner for Canada's bronze medal-winning 4x100 relay team at the 2016 Rio Games.
In 2015, the five-foot-seven, 170-pound Haynes ran a personal-best 10.15 seconds over 100 metres.
He'll work as a receiver with Hamilton and could also return kicks.
"He has qualities you can't teach," said Drew Allemang, Hamilton's assistant GM and Canadian scouting director. "I think what we're looking forward to most is seeing him compete in a football environment.

"He'll have a lot learn but all young players do. It (pro football) is a big jump."
Haynes reluctantly gave up football for track after high school when he attended Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas. He planned to be a two-sport athlete there but the school didn't have a football program so Haynes concentrated on track and academics.
It paid off as Haynes also earned a general health degree at Alabama. Haynes said one key to his track success is never being afraid to fail.

"I've always been a fighter and brought that attitude to track," he said. "I've fallen but I've always gotten right back up.
"All the things I brought to track that helped me be successful there I'm bringing to football."
Something Haynes will have to master as a receiver is running quickly in multiple directions under control, rather than going full out in a straight line. He must also learn to run crisp routes and develop peripheral vision to know where defenders are on the field so he's not crunched by a blindside hit.

Haynes believes his explosiveness will help him gain separation from defenders.
"I think that initial burst will allow me to do that a little better than most and I'm going to use it to my advantage," he said. "Hopefully, (quickness) will also allow me to turn a simple slant or hitch pass into something bigger."
Training for football has forced Haynes to modify his off-season regiment.
"I still train like a track athlete on Mondays and Thursdays, which are usually my speed days," he said. "But when I'm lifting weights, I'm lifting heavier and there's more reps so everything is adding extra.

"Honestly some days are the same (as track) but other days I dial it in and focus a little more."
With added strength comes more muscle, yet too much bulk can impact quickness. Haynes wants to report to camp a little heavier but still be lightning quick.
"I'll be taking hits so I'll probably try to get to 175 (pounds)," he said. "But I still want to run the 40 in 4.2 or 4.3 seconds."

Haynes plans to begin working out next month in Hamilton with starter Jeremiah Masoli and veteran receiver Brandon Banks. Haynes is looking forward to learning from the five-foot-seven, 155-pound Banks, another former sprinter who's now a dual receiver/kick returner threat.
"He's someone who makes something out of nothing and I think I can do that also," Haynes said. "I'd like to get there and learn as much as I can so when training camp begins everything isn't foreign to me."

The Olympic medal remains a career milestone for Haynes. But even that lofty accomplishment would be trumped if Haynes is on Hamilton's roster June 16 when it opens the '18 season in Calgary.
"To have the opportunity to go out of the tunnel with the team onto the football field, that's always been my dream," he said. "That would probably raise it a notch higher than the actual medal and (winning) the Grey Cup, that would be even sweeter.
"But I've always been good at keeping things one day at a time. I know mini-camp is still a long way away and while I'm there mentally, physically there's plenty to improve on. I think many people are afraid to take that next step and go for what they truly want. This is something I've always wanted and can't wait."

Great post.

He sounds like he'll fit in with Jones' offence - another small speedster.

I'm skeptical. Its one thing to run fast, quite another to collide at full speed with Solomon Eliminam or Bear Wood. Or to track and catch a ball with a bunch of gear and a helmet.

That sums up my feelings on it as well.

I like the signing though. Seems worth it to take a shot on a guy like this. Let him kick around on the practice roster for a bit and see how it goes. Low risk, high reward.

One of the highlights of 2015: Speedy B catches a quick out pass, Elimimian has him lined up for an easy tackle, and Banks ploughs through Elmimian as though the 75-pound weight advantage went the other way.

That play was great. That whole summer was great. The Ticats were blowing teams out almost every game. Then Collaros got hurt.:cry:

I am not skeptical. I am looking forward to his success burning defensive backs and slow linebackers.

An additional bonus is that he has the right passport . He might just turn out to be the Canadian version of Speedy B .

The two in size and speed are virtual clones of each other it seems .
Only an inch shorter and 10 lbs heavier and just as fast , if not faster . That of course is still to be determined . If he works out I can see him filling the role that Banks used to have here before his promotion to full time receiver as possibly our new kick and punt returner . 8)

The old cliche "You can't teach speed."? But, does he need to learn how to run routes, catch and hang on in traffic? There is more to being a receiver than just being fast. I guess that's what training camps are for!

As a P/K returner, You need to be able to do this before your straight line speed works

Sure, that will happen every once in a while. He could have been tired, lost leverage. How often do you think Banks wins that battle? Also Bank is a football player...

Professional football has been turning Olympic athletes into players since Jim Thorpe in 1912.

With varying degrees of success it is clear in many cases football skills can be taught and such athletes raising skills to the necessary levels is a distinct possibility.

Yes, it won’t happen every game. Thanks. That’s why it was a “highlight?.

He knocked Elimimian on his butt! The reigning MOP of the league and record-setting tackler!

Sometimes you are the hammer and sometimes you are the nail.

Jim thorpe was already an established football star before he competed at the 1912 Olympics.

If being an amateur on an obscure trade school team counts as a star, yes.

Jim Thorpe is an awesome story. A Native American, Olympic Decathlon champ, MLB and NFL and Lacrosse player. He also won intercollegiate ballroom dancing championship.
He led a little known Carlisle University to a victory against a top ranked Harvard scoring all his teams points a TD and 4-FGs as he was a RB, DB, P/K.
One of my all time favorite stories of an amazing athlete.

He was an All-American football star playing on an "obscure" trade school that just happened to win that eras version of the national championship so ya, it most definitely counts.

So again, he was already a football player (and a great one at that) before he took part in the Olympics.

So again... point being.... olympic athletes have been turned into professional level football players for a very long time.

I guess you're technically correct, in that Thorpe was an Olympian before he became a professional football player. But he was a super-star college player before he was an Olympian.

Are there any examples of Olympians who went on to have successful football careers despite never having played college football (NCAA DI/DII/DIII, CIS). That's the situation Akeem Haynes is in right now.