TUNNEL HILL, Ga. - Like the rest of the 2009 college football recruits, Wednesday was one of the most important days in the life of Dean Haynes.
The Northwest Whitfield star signed scholarship papers to continue his career and education at North Carolina State University, joining hundreds of teenagers who fulfilled lifetime dreams of earning a BCS scholarship.
Though the small signing party held at the school was much like the ones held all across the country Wednesday, that's where the similarities mostly end. Dean Haynes is, according to his prep coach, old school. There was no last-minute drama, no attempts to call attention to himself and very little celebrating.
Haynes, in fact, may have been the easiest recruit N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien has every secured. The two-way Bruins' star committed to the Wolfpack months ago after attending a summer camp in Raleigh. He did not visit other schools and politely let schools such as Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech know that his committment was his word and he wasn't going back on it.
"I've been solid with N.C. State since I committed," said the 6-foot, 190-pound two-way starter, who totaled 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns to go with 62 tackles and two interceptions this season. "Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt offered, but I never wavered."
Haynes didn't even take an official visit to N.C. State until two weeks ago, but the trip further strengthened his choice.
"My parents didn't get to go to the camp, so I wanted to let them see it," said Haynes, who was recruited as a defensive back. "They loved everything about it - how they treated us, the coaches, the academics, everything."
Asked if he ever had a moment when he thought he committed too soon, Haynes said the decision was the best thing he could have done.
"It made my senior season a lot easier," said Haynes, who has been working out daily and will run track this spring in preparation for his freshman season. "I didn't have to worry about a scholarship. I wouldn't change a thing about it."
Northwest coach Mike Falleur, who has sent several players to big-time schools over his coaching career, also believes his player did the right thing in committing early.
"He was determined not to get caught up in all the recruiting nonsense," Falleur said. "I've had guys before who got caught up in it and they concentrated more on that than they did about helping our team. That was never a question with Dean. He's got a great future."