“IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, THE MIND CAN ACHIEVE IT.”
Dylan Haines’ stereotypical walk-on story isn’t quite so typical
- Updated: July 21, 2016
Dylan Haines is a walking, cliché-ridden sports tale.
He’s a white, walk-on athlete from a 3A school who made it to the big city of Austin, earned a scholarship and eventually landed in the starting lineup for the legendary Texas Longhorns. The story goes, of course, Haines worked harder than everyone else and overcame his athletic disadvantages with his smarts and feel for the game.
Yet Haines’ account is a bit more complicated than that.
Haines is the son of a former Longhorn football player and grew up in the shadow of the program. Colleges missed him the first time because he was a bit undersized, but he’s by no means is he an athletic slouch. He’s also not a one-off movie highlight – the senior is entering his third year as a starter for the Longhorns at safety.
“A lot of people see me as a former walk on,” Haines said. “They think, ‘Oh, he was a walk on. He wasn’t talented or athletic enough to get a scholarship.’
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety earned a scholarship prior his third season on campus in 2014 and entered the starting lineup shortly after. First-year head coach Charlie Strong needed help at safety, and Haines stepped to the forefront of that rotation ahead of former four-star players in fall camp.
“Dylan has done a great job,” Strong said. “The good thing about him is he earned a scholarship. When you watch him, he’s one of those guys that’s always in the right place getting guys lined up. I just like his overall work ethic. He just outworks people.”
Hard work, toughness and football smarts is the narrative for Haines.
Nicknamed “White Lightning” or “White Chocolate” by his teammates depending on the day, Haines doesn’t mind those compliments. But he also feels like they’re unfairly tacked on him as crutch to excuse his lack of athleticism — a label Haines said is often thrown at white defensive backs. Or, at least a perceived lack of athleticism that Haines feels resonates from fans and the media.
“Everybody stereotypes, everyone does it,” Haines said. “So there’s definitely a stereotype around white athletes, especially around the word “tough.” That’s all you see about me. You also see slow and not athletic, but you also see intelligent or hard worker or something like that. I’d be lying if I said I sit here and run a 4.3. But my definition of athleticism is different than some others. I think I’m a good athlete.”
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