One piece of the recruiting puzzle for college coaches is recruiting the player, and the other is recruiting said player’s parents. While a prospect may have the final word on where he signs, parents play a significant role in the process from paying the tab for unofficial visits to giving their thoughts on their child’s fit at any given university. With four-star 2023 Blessed Trinity tailback Justice Haynes, parents Brandi Gowdy and Verron Haynes are hands on but allowing their son to follow his own path.
The path forward for Justice is in his control. This rings true given his father is a former Georgia Bulldogs running back (1999-2001) but has allowed him to visit SEC East archrival Florida. On Wednesday, April 6, Justice made the trip to Gainesville with his parents accompanying him leaving impressed by new head coach Billy Napier and his staff.
Justice Haynes’ mother, Brandi, gave her thoughts on the visit to her old stomping grounds.
As parents, what impressed you most about Florida’s program under new head coach Billy Napier during the visit?
“Coach Napier impressed me with the conversation we had in his office. You could tell he was authentic, and he made it a point to highlight things that he researched on Justice. It wasn’t the typical generic head coach office conversation. He was very genuine and he spoke to us not only about Justice‘s football opportunity but he recognized Justice’s future in baseball. He stressed his support for his baseball career.
“Throughout the conversation you could tell he had just as much respect for Justice as Justice has for him. That is what you want to feel when your child is choosing a program.
“There is a lot of emphasis on attention to detail with each player, every little thing they do on the field and off the field, very top notch. I felt like there wasn’t this cookie cutter approach, but they are big on developing and enhancing the attributes of each individual player.
“From the coaching to strength and conditioning, injury prevention to nutrition, and to academic support, I saw there is detail and reasoning in everything they do. The feel of the program, coaches and support staff felt very genuine and organic in how they interact with each other and with the players. They have a family atmosphere with respect for sure.
“Also, coach Napier is not only bringing in elite players but elite coaches, an elite support staff and facilities.”
Going into the visit, what questions did you have about the new staff and the direction of the program, and did you receive the answers to your questions?
“I didn’t have many questions per se. I wanted to see how the coaches were interacting since a lot of them are new coaching together. Also, I’m big on academics, so I was very interested on the programs’ emphasis on making sure the players are accountable in their academics and future careers. Yes, I got my answers, very detailed answers on the academic side.
“Katie (Turner) in recruiting did an excellent job setting up the different people for us to talk to. Justice got an extensive tour of the business school and the (Otis) Hawkins Center. They spoke to him about what he wants to major in, and it was very specific to Justice, which I was very impressed with and different than what we have experienced with other programs.
Of all the visits taken with your son, how does the Florida visit compare?
I would say Florida rates at the very top. From the moment we arrived, you could feel the priority and respect they had for Justice and our family. There was just as much energy and focus on Justice, the football player, as Justice the young man and Justice the student. You could tell they took the time to appeal to Justice and our families’ interests and concerns.
“Also, coach (Jabbar) Juluke (RB) is awesome. He made us feel right at home. I appreciate coach Juluke’s authentic approach and love he has for his players and their families.”
Talking football, what are your thoughts on Florida’s new offensive scheme, and how do you see Justice fitting into that style of play?
“I see that Justice has a lot of opportunity to play and develop. Coach Juluke showed us on film how the scheme Justice has played in high school correlates to some of their plays.”
Are you planning a return visit to Florida? If so, when and what are you wanting to see, learn, or do then?
“I can’t answer that yet. As a family we are still accessing things and Justice is working to narrow down his list of schools and official visits. However, if we do return, I want to see if the authenticity and attention to detail are consistent.”
What ties do either of you have to the current Gators’ staff? How will those relationships influence your feelings about Florida when the time comes to make a decision?
“I have ties to UF, I actually attended UF as a freshman then transferred to Georgia in my junior year and graduated from Georgia-Terry College of Business. I have many friends who played at Florida. Coach (Mike) Peterson (OLB) and I were at UF together and know each other. However, that has no bearing on Justice’s decision. This is Justice’s journey and future and I want him to be happy and comfortable in his choice. I’m here to support and advise him as a mom.”
As parents, what are the criteria or criterion that one school has to have for you to give your blessing to Justice to commit and sign?
1. “Justice feeling confident and comfortable in the stability and opportunities within the program also seeing the respect and caring of the coaches and staff for him.
2. “Academics, his major and career opportunities.
3. “An emphasis on development off the field, things like support and programs in helping him further develop as a young man. Also equipping him with knowledge and skills to use after he leaves college or stops playing football.”
What were Justice’s thoughts on the visit?
“He was pleasantly surprised and impressed. I don’t think going into the visit he expected that UF had so much to offer. It reaffirmed its always good to keep an open mind and trust the process. He has created a good relationship with coach Juluke, and really likes him and his coaching style. But meeting all the other coaches and staff, seeing the school and the football facilities, let him see that they have a great program with great people and great potential. And mostly, Justice could feel they were interested in Justice the football player and Justice the person.”