Rising junior defensive end Marquis Haynes, who finished his third spring with the program recently, took over the number 10 jersey left behind by pass rush specialist CJ Johnson. Haynes, an adept quarterback finder in his own right, will be a key member of Chris Kiffin’s returning #rushmen tasked with the chore of replacing a few departed producers from 2015.
Along with Fadol Brown and others, Haynes, must replace a total of 136 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hurries and nine sacks, from the likes of Johnson, Robert Nkemdiche, Channing Ward and Woodrow Hamilton. Haynes seems more than ready to assume the alpha dog role left behind by Nkemdiche, as he, not the former five-star, led the team in sacks last year. His 10 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss each ranked fourth-best in the SEC.
The 6’3 220-pound Haynes is known for his speed on the edge, a reputation he started building in his freshman season in 2014. Though, he was more of a complete end last Fall and appears to only be getting better and better. He registered 43 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, eight quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 2015.
That followed his 31 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks(tied for ninth in SEC, tied for fourth in FBS by a freshman and school record for a freshman), eight quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery totals from his freshman campaign. If he is able to build from year two to year three, the way he did from year one to year two, then it will provide a substantial boost to the Ole Miss defense, as well.
While pressed to replaced lost production this offseason, defensive coordinator Dave Wommack is also trying to return his unit to the level it was one during Hayne’s first ride.
Haynes not only was named to the coaches freshman All-SEC team in 2014, but he also helped the landshark defense lead the FBS in scoring defense(16 points per game allowed) as well as leading the SEC in tackles for loss(7.6 TFLs per game). The coaches named him to the All-SEC second team for 2015, while ESPN.com selected him to the SEC All-Bowl team.
In the New Year’s Day Sugar Bowl matchup against Oklahoma State he tallied four tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and assisted on a sack. Additionally, he’s been no stranger to weekly honors from the SEC office. Twice he was honored in his freshman year, wining the defensive lineman of the week in week seven and freshman of the week the following week. Last season he won defensive lineman of the week in back-to-back weeks spanning weeks eight and nine. He also took home the same award in week 12.
So while getting back to the form that helped lead the defense to the success it had in 2014 is the team goal. For Haynes the expectations are clear and anchoring a successful defense can aid in that. He, due to conceivable elevated production, impact and presence, should land on the post season list of 1st-team conference performers.
In doing so, and perhaps even without doing so, he would join an impressive group of Rebels that appear to be next in line when it comes to the NFL Draft. Haynes reported to Ole Miss as a decorated track athlete, but has shaped himself into an ideal spread defender on the edge. His stock would be high as outside linebacking, edge-rusher, as he also possess the agility to play comfortably in intermediate coverage.