Pittsburgh native Robert Hainsey is one of the top offensive line prospects in the class of 2017 with nearly 30 offers from Power Five programs from all over the country. The talented offensive tackle’s offer list is a who’s-who of college football powers and include the likes of LSU, Ohio State, Florida and Michigan.
After playing his first two high school seasons at Gateway high school, Hainsey (6’5″/270 lbs) made the decision to transfer to IMG Academy in Bradendon, Florida. Since the transfer, Hainsey has rose up the rankings to be considered one of top 300 players in the class by every notable recruing service.
Among the boatload of offers for Hainsey includes an offer from his hometown program, the University of Pittsburgh.
Gar Bercury from the Pittsburgh Sports Now had a chance to chat with Hainsey on National Signing Day and learn more about his decision to transfer to IMG, where his recruiting stands and where the Panthers might fit as the class of 2017 comes into greater focus.
Pittsburgh Sports Now–Robert, It had to be tough leaving Pittsburgh and Gateway High School to head to IMG Academy in Florida. Tell our readers what went into that decision.
Robert Hainsey–It’s been great down here. All the coaches really work to improve your skill. The offensive line and strength coaches, the nutritionists all have helped me to get so much better and that’s really the reason I wanted to come down here. I just wanted to the be the best I can be as a football player and coming down here have been a lot of fun and it has helped me a lot.
As far as making the decision it was a really short process. I received the opportunity like the third week of July and if I wanted to go I had to be down there and ready for camp no later than August 1st. So over that two weeks I visited and I just realized that with where I am trying to go, to get to the level as a player that I want to be in my first year of college, the difference between sticking at Gateway or making the move would be huge.
I want to to play early and start, become an All-American and eventually try to make it to the NFL so making the move to IMG was the right decision and I didn’t think twice about it.
PSN–It must have been tough to leave your hometown and your family though?
RH–I miss my family but I just realize that I am getting a head start on college so when I get there I will be all that more prepared than the next guy. I do miss it but I know why I am doing it and that it will all be worth it in the end.
PSN–How did you initially find out about IMG and get the opportunity to head there?
RH–I had known about the school because I had a friend that had been here for basketball. Early in the Summer they had asked me if I had an interest in checking out the school and I knew about (IMG) but I was little bit shocked by it. Once I took my visit I knew this was it and it was all good.
PSN–What are some of the biggest differences between playing at IMG after coming from Gateway where you competed in the WPIAL?
RH–It’s really complete opposites to be honest. The players I practice with and go against everyday at IMG are the best players in the country. So I went from being really the only heavily recruited player on the team to being just another kid on the team. It really is one-hundred percent different. Here everyone is getting recruited so it’s not as big a deal. We’re just focused on getting better and doing our jobs.
PSN–You have an impressive list of offers, something like 23 at this point that include the likes of Auburn, LSU, Michigan, Florida, Ohio State and Pittsburgh. It must be exciting to be in that position. Does it get a little overwhelming considering all the offers?
RH–It’s been really fun but I am trying to take it one step at a time. At the beginning I really did not know what to expect from the process and it kind of just gets sprung up on you. I feel like I am taking it in and handling everything pretty well. I’m really just trying to make the most out of it because I’ll never get the chance to do it again–so it’s all about having fun with it and making the right decision in the end.
PSN–National Signing Day is quite the event, with it all going down, did you have to follow it much? What is your reaction to the whole thing?
RH–The way people see athletes is crazy, I saw Rashan Gary on TV riding in a limo and announcing on ESPN, it’s just crazy. We’re just kids, we’re just kids playing sports, trying to make the most of these opportunities. I know it means a lot to a ton of people out there, but at the same time we’re just kids trying to have the best future we can. People don’t really know what it’s truly like unless you are on the inside.
PSN–This time next year it will be Robert Hainsey signing his letter of intent. Have you been able to start putting together a list of schools that might be celebrating you signing with them next February?
RH–It’s tough right now, I’m still getting some offers and still hope to get a few more then I think I might be ready to put out a top-ten by the Spring maybe, we’ll have to see.
PSN–Fair enough, how about some schools you most likely will want to visit?
RH–Oh yeah there’s some schools I definitely want to get to. We’ll be going on Spring Break and it will be very busy for me. I definitely want to visit some schools that I can’t normally get to up north like Pitt and Penn State. I also definitely want to hit up Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State over a weekend during break.
PSN–Many of our readers are fans of the University of Pittsburgh and are curious to know where the Panthers stand in your recruiting. Could Pitt ultimately be a landing spot for you?
RH–Pitt has a lot of upside for me, they are on the rise with Coach Narduzzi and he’s doing a great job. I know they are only going to get better so they are a program I will continue to look at. Like I said, I will be there over Spring Break to visit and take a look at all the new facilities so I am really looking forward to that. I definitely like Pitt a lot.
PSN–So it’s fair to say that Coach Narduzzi has breathed new life into the program in your eyes and that has made a difference?
RH–Yeah it’s changed the whole look of the program and I only see it getting better from here.
PSN–Football will clearly be a major factor in your choice, beyond that, what matters most and finally what might you want to study once you select your school?
RH–I definitely want to go somewhere that is going to prepare me for the next level, where I can play early and often. I want to be somewhere where I am comfortable with my coaches and teammates, where I feel most at home.
As far as what I want to study? I’d say I definitely want to do something with business. Football won’t last forever so that is something that interests me as a major.