As an incoming freshman finding his way on a talented Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway varsity squad, Robert Hainsey was asked to switch positions to sure up his team’s offensive line last season. Despite a steep learning curve the talented youngster impressed on the field last year and helped the Gators to an 8-3 record.
“Personally I think I had a great year,” said Hainsey. “I had never played left tackle before and since we didn’t have a true and steady staff, we didn’t really have a steady line coach. With never playing at position or high school football, which is a different speed and strength, I think I progressed very well.”
In addition to his duties on the offensive line the rising Keystone State star also contributed at defensive end. At 6-4 and nearly 250 lbs., Hainsey possesses not only attractive size, but also the type of strength and wingspan that coaches covet. No matter where he lines up Hainsey insists his approach is the same.
“No matter what I always want to start off the game getting the first hit on whoever I’m going up against,” said Hainsey. “That’s how I like to start a game, then play aggressively the whole way through. I always play through the whistle on both sides.”
After an eye-opening freshman campaign Hainsey is trending as a high-ceiling offensive tackle prospect that could also play on the defensive line if need be. Though still early in his development, his physical qualities project well for college football and he is beginning to hear from several notable Big Ten programs. One of them has emerged as an early favorite.
“My top is definitely Michigan because they invited me out for the visit,” said Hainsey. “Penn State is also involved too. I think that has a lot to do with Coach Terry Smith. Now that he’s up there they’ve been in contact and talking to me about spring ball and camps. Those are the two main schools that I’ve been talking to the most.”
The Wolverines have the edge at this point thanks in part to an in-school visit that demonstrated their early interest.
“It was the offensive line coach Darrell Funk who visited (Gateway),” said Hainsey. “To me it seems like he really knows what he’s doing. I think he would be able to teach me as lot and help me progress as a player.”
Hainsey was able to get some face-time with Funk when he made his way to Ann Arbor for the February 23rd home basketball game versus Michigan State… a contest which Michigan won 79-70.
“There were about 15 or 20 recruits there including Aiden Howard from Gateway,” said Hainsey. “We walked around and all the facilities were great. The weight room was huge and that’s something I love to see because lifting is a hobby for me. Then we got to walk onto the field inside Michigan Stadium. Looking around it was crazy because we had just come from the game. It was so loud there even though there were only 15,000 people, then we were looking around a stadium that can fit over a hundred thousand. It would be crazy to see that many people cheering you on.”
With a chance to closer examine Michigan’s program, Hainsey found the Maize & Blue to be even better than he expected.
“I had already looked into Michigan before and it was one of my favorite schools, so when they invited me to visit it was a great moment and I was really excited,” he said. “Michigan definitely interests me and is one of my favorite schools. I could definitely see myself there. As far as the program goes, I know they’re a historical program with a lot of great players. That is especially true at the offensive line positions too. I know Taylor Lewan just competed at the NFL Combine and he was one of my players who I really looked up to from watching him on television these past few seasons. “
Michigan is clearly in strong position with Hainsey, albeit at an early juncture. Look for the Wolverines to continue to monitor his development in the months and years to come.