IMG Coach Talks Notre Dame Commit Robert Hainsey
IMG Academy football coach Kevin Wright said he had his team vote for one captain at the end of spring practice.
The Bradenton, Florida, juggernaut boarding school churns out high-level prospects every year, but Wright said there was an obvious choice when he put it to a vote.
It was star left tackle Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame’s most recent verbal commitment.
“I think that kind of tells you, we know he’s got physical ability, but with him it goes beyond that,” Wright said this week. “People recognize the work ethic component and his attention to detail.”
Hainsey — a 6-foot-5, 280-pound native of Monroeville, Pennsylvania and the No. 64 player in the Rivals100 — will play his second season with the Florida prep powerhouse this fall. He played his first two years of high school football at Gateway High School in Pittsburgh.
Wright said the adjustment to playing away from home was not a difficult one for Hainsey.
“From Day 1 he was very focused and businesslike in his approach,” said Wright, a Hamilton County (Ind.) native and former coach at Carmel High School. “He came for a reason, he wanted to be the best player that he could be and he loves to play the game of football.
“He transitioned about as well as anybody we’ve had and stepped right into the role as left tackle almost from Day 1. He’s handled as a mature young man and really has not...I think he came here with a purpose and hasn’t really looked back and continues to improve.”
Wright called Hainsey a “self-made guy,” a player the coach said has handled everything the IMG coaches have given him. Whether that’s technique, fundamentals or getting in the weight room, Hainsey has been a “sponge,” Wright said.
That includes adding about 20 pounds of muscle to his frame since arriving at IMG.
“I think he’s a very good athlete for an offensive lineman,” Wright said. “He’s also a guy that he’s very focused on the details of the position, he doesn't take things for granted and he’s a tremendously hard worker.”
Hainsey, Wright said, has bragging rights of being the first offensive lineman of the 2017 class publicly invited to the Nike+ Football The Opening, which is currently being held in Beaverton, Oregon.
Hainsey, though, is no stranger to tough competition.
With IMG’s defensive roster stacked with talent — including 2017 five-star defensive ends Josh Kaindoh (Maryland commit) and Robert Beal (Georgia commit) as well as 2017 three-star LB Bryce Brand (Arizona commit) — Hainsey is tested daily, Wright said.
In 2015, Hainsey also went against IMG’s Shavar Manuel (Florida State signee) in praactice as well as Michigan signee and No. 1 overall prospect Rashan Gary and Florida State signee Brian Burns.
“We talk about it all the time, you don’t come here if you don’t want to compete and compete at a high level,” Wright said. “I think he relishes that. He plays a little bit with a chip on his shoulder which I think is a good thing.
“To say does he thrive on competition, most definitely, but that’s why most of our kids come to IMG is because it’s not just a Friday night thing. It’s an everyday thing.”
An Indiana native himself, Wright is familiar with what the Irish can offer Hainsey.
“I know that he really enjoyed Notre Dame and the visit,” Wright said. “He really enjoyed the coaching staff, he felt at home there. I think he bought into the, being from Indiana myself, he bought into the ‘What is Notre Dame?’ Notre Dame is really more than a football program, it’s a very unique university that when you get a degree from Notre Dame, it means something.
“[Notre Dame] is going to take you far beyond football. I think from that standpoint he gets it. It’s not just a football decision, it’s a life decision. I know he really liked the whole concept of what Notre Dame football and a Notre Dame degree can do for you and how that is going to impact not just the next four years, but the next 40 years of your life.”