Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan — North Gwinnett quarterback Michael Haynes has become one of Gwinnett County's top passers in his only year as a starter.
THE HAYNES FILE
Who: Michael Haynes
School: North Gwinnett
Dream job: Professional athlete
Favorite sports team: Atlanta Falcons
Favorite TV show: Tosh.O
-- Has thrown for 1,760 yards and 21 TDs this season and rushed for 618 yards and three TDs
-- Maintains 3.7 GPA
-- Plays pitcher and first base on North baseball team
-- Father Mickey was an all-state quarterback on Brookwood's 1988 state runner-up team
Michael Haynes knew this was his only shot.
When the North Gwinnett baseball team was knocked out of the playoffs this spring, Haynes didn't take any time off to relax. He went straight to spring football practice.
Haynes spent the previous two years as North's backup QB. With his chance to become the starting quarterback, he wasted little time getting back on the field.
"This last spring and summer he put all his eggs in football," North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said.
Haynes bulked up by putting on about 15 pounds during the offseason. He also became more of a leader on the field.
"I just knew what we saw that first day of spring is what we could have this fall," Sphire said.
Sphire was right.
Haynes has led a game-winning drive, put together impressive passing numbers and has North back in the playoffs for the seventh straight year. He'll celebrate his 18th birthday today by making his first career playoff start.
"I think we've done a pretty good job so far," Haynes said.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior has thrown for 1,760 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has a completion percentage of 65.9 and has thrown just five interceptions.
"I've been spreading it around to our athletes, giving our guys a chance to make a play," Haynes said. "Overall, just keeping the offense together and doing what we need to do to get the win every week."
Haynes made his first career start in the Georgia Dome when North upset state-ranked Colquitt County. Haynes led North to the game-winning field goal.
"No question about it. He played really big down the stretch and was very clutch," Sphire said.
Haynes has developed a knack for shining in big games. He threw for 236 yards and two TDs against No. 3 ranked Norcross. His 253-yard passing, three touchdown and 116-yard rushing performance against Mill Creek was one of the best games a QB has played under Sphire.
"In all the critical situations, he just seemed to really be on point, making the right decision to the right matchup and making the right throw," Sphire said.
Haynes is continuing a tradition of standout quarterbacks at North Gwinnett. Mikey Tamburo led North to the state title game in 2007, C.J. Uzomah and Scotty Hosch guided North to region titles. All three signed with Division I football programs.
"You look at the past quarterbacks we've had with Mikey, C.J. and Scotty, they are guys that went D-I football," Haynes said. "It sets the bar high. What they've been able to do with the team, it pushes you to be the best you can be and try to live up the expectations they have."
If that wasn't enough pressure, Haynes is also the son of former Brookwood QB Mickey Haynes. The older Haynes was an all-state player on Brookwood's 1988 state runner-up team.
"He does a pretty job being motivational and giving good advice," Haynes said of his father. "He's been through it all before. Having someone like that to rely on, who's been in my shoes is kind of nice."
Haynes grew up in Cobb County playing in the Harrison district and running the Hoyas' wing-T offense. His family moved to Suwanee in 2008 and he's slowly developed into a top-notch quarterback.
He split time as a baseball and football player, but devoted the entire offseason to football this year.
"He set his summer schedule up so nothing would conflict with football and he's developed and developed," Sphire said. "He knew as soon as they got beat in the state playoffs of baseball, once that happened and he got to spring practice he knew this was his opportunity and chance for this to be his team."
Now North is back in the playoffs and will rely on Haynes for a deep playoff run. The Bulldogs have been knocked out in the second round the last two years.
"He's going to have a lot on him," Sphire said. "Michael is going to have to make a lot of plays for us to win."