Jarred Johnson, left, and former Cherokee High School quarterback Dylan Haynes stand on either side of Reinhardt football coach Danny Cronic, modeling the uniforms the Eagles will wear for their inaugural season this fall.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
WALESKA — Dressed in pads and their game-day uniforms, Dylan Haynes and Jarred Johnson were on the football field alongside coach Danny Cronic at Reinhardt University on Wednesday morning to showcase the new attire.
All three agreed that it felt pretty good.
“I’m really excited about the new jerseys,” Johnson said. “It’s just a great feeling. It’s amazing. I feel like we could kick off right now. When I was putting the uniform on in the locker room, it felt like we were going to kick off, not take pictures. It was a really good feeling. ”
Haynes said he felt great to be back in a uniform.
“It gives us an identity,” he said.
Johnson, a junior linebacker who transferred from Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., attended Reinhardt last season when all the team did was practice and scrimmage. Haynes, a quarterback and product of Cherokee High School, was previously enrolled at Shorter College in Rome.
Haynes said he hasn’t played since senior night at Cherokee, when he broke Jayson Foster’s team record for the most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback with 226.
That was Nov. 5, 2010.
“It’s been two years,” Haynes said. “It’s been too long — way too long. I haven’t played anything but scrimmages.”
Johnson and Haynes were on hand to model the uniforms Wednesday. Johnson sported a uniformed designed by teammate Ira Hughley, while Haynes wore one designed by associate professor of sociology Donald Gregory.
The designs were selected as part of a contest. Helmets were not part of the unveiling.
Because both designs feature the same colors—blue, white, yellow — and a similar scheme, the Eagles will have the option of wearing either pants with either jersey.
Cronic said Johnson and Haynes were selected to model the uniforms because of what they bring to the program.
Sharing the field Wednesday were several dozen high school players on hand for a lineman camp. It was the second of three camps that will be held this summer, with a youth day-camp scheduled for next week.
Cronic said that, aside from camps, most of his summer has been consumed with the details of Reinhardt’s inaugural season this fall.
There’s still another intern to hire, headsets to order for coaches and locks to be purchased for lockers. On top of that, Cronic is expecting to have 160 players in the program by August. That means that all of the players need to have physicals and pass through the NAIA clearinghouse.
“Just getting all of those things fulfilled takes a lot,” said Cronic. “The week of July 4, we will all be gone. I will be back the next week. Coach (Will) Heath will be back the week after that. Then, after that, we will be full-time, 24-7, starting on (July 22). A lot of our time is making sure (the players) are in summer school. The thing that takes the most time is getting them through the NAIA clearinghouse.”
Before football kicks off in the fall, the area surrounding the field will undergo some changes of its own. According to Mid-South Conference guidelines, there must be 25-foot filming towers on either end of the field.
Reinhardt sports information director Jason Hanes expects some of those changes to take place after the new fiscal year begins July 1.
Among the proposed changes are more bleachers for general-admission seating and clearing the trees behind the end zone to make the field visible from the road.
A scoreboard will also go up in the next few weeks.
“There are just a lot of details, but it’s been enjoyable,” Cronic said.
Freshmen will arrive Aug. 5, while upperclassmen — in most cases, redshirt freshmen — will arrive a day later. Then, the preparations begin for Reinhardt’s first game, Aug. 31 in Macon against another first-year program, Mercer.
“They are still students,” Cronic said. “The most important thing is here they are just like everybody else. They aren’t treated any differently. It’s just that their days are extra busy because of football.”
The Eagles will begin two-a-days later that week.
“Because of the numbers, we may have to break practice in two, so that we spend some of the day with the freshmen and some of the day with the older guys,” Cronic said. “But then some of these freshmen will begin competing for a starting position, so all of that has to be worked out as we go.”