Former University of Akron running back Quentin Hines hopped on a plane Thursday morning heading for Boston.
There was one thing on his mind — impressing New England Patriots coaches.
The Patriots hold their rookie minicamp today and Saturday, and it’s difficult not to root for Hines to make a good impression.
“They said they were happy to have me,” Hines said of the Patriots, who envision using him on special teams to start.
Hines never really seemed to fit into the Zips’ plans after coach Terry Bowden took over the program last season.
Given that Hines was a senior brought in by the prior coaching staff, that’s understandable. Bowden arrived at UA looking to build a sustainable program. It’s difficult to do that without developing talent. Because of that, it’s not difficult to understand why two freshmen — Conor Hundley and Hakeem Lawrence — received most of the playing time behind starter Jawon Chisholm.
But Hines got a chance to show an occasional glimpse of what he was capable of doing, most notably in the game against Tennessee when he ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run.
But it’s the freakish workout stats Hines posted at a regional combine held in Berea and a pro day at UA that really put a shine on him.
At the pro day, he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, showed a 42½-inch vertical jump and had a broad jump of 11 feet, 3 inches. Nine teams contacted him about joining their organization, and he elected to go with the Patriots, which ultimately could prove to be a wise move.
Coach Bill Belichick has a track record of giving players, regardless of draft status, a fair shot. Hines should look to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for the prime example. Hines has talked to Belichick twice.
“[Belichik] said that they can’t wait to get me on the field and see my speed,” he said.
Coming to the NFL as an undrafted rookie is never the easiest way to make a team, but if Hines’ effort matches those freakish numbers, he could open some eyes.
On solid ground
With the Mid-American Conference Championship set to start today at the par-72, 7,243-yard Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, Ohio, Zips coach David Trainor has every reason to be optimistic about his team’s future.
So far this year, three freshmen have impressed with their play. Louis Birchell, Ryan Harris and Carr Vernon will likely continue to lead the way for the Zips.
But Trainor realizes with their youth comes inexperience and mistakes. The latter they hope to minimize not only over their careers, but this weekend as well. That involves fewer risks on the course and forgetting mistakes once they are committed. Charlie Bull, arguably the team’s best golfer, agreed.
“We’re going to hopefully have those three guys and the exact same lineup this time next year,” he said. “In my three years here, we haven’t had that many underclassmen in the MAC Championship lineup. Maybe not in my time, but their time, they’re all going to play in MAC Championships. Looking forward, I think it’s huge that we have that many freshmen going this year.”
Williams gets shot
Former Zips quarterback Dalton Williams will return home to Texas. An undrafted free agent, Williams signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys, who will reportedly have up to six quarterbacks in camp, according to reports.