CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Dean Haynes was able to play in the final few games of the 2012 season for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
But the former Northwest Whitfield star was never able to really play.
Haynes injured his foot on the second day of fall camp after transferring from North Carolina State, limiting his impact in his first season back close to home.
This spring, he's already making up for lost time.
"I was really looking forward to the spring, and I trained harder than ever this offseason," Haynes said before Wednesday's practice. "I knew I needed to get to where I was 100-percent again, and I'm just really ready to have a great season."
Even when Haynes was cleared to play in the second half of the season, he still was hindered by an uncomfortable brace.
The 6-foot-1 safety made his UTC debut against Furman on October 13, but managed just four tackles total in his first three games.
Once he started to find his groove, though, Haynes totaled 14 tackles over his final three outings and ended the season with two tackles for a loss.
"I'm glad he's back out here," said Mocs' head coach Russ Huesman. "He did a good job for us last year in the things we asked him to do. He was able to start a few games and he played well in a few games.
"You could tell he was a little rusty. He got hurt and got disconnected a little bit, but to be good in a new system you need to get reps. I think that's really helping him this spring."
Now finally healthy, Haynes has high expectations for himself in 2013.
He bounced back and forth between offense and defense at NC State, but feels at home with the Mocs' defense. His comfort level is rising every day under new defensive coordinator Adam Braithwaite, who is also Haynes' position coach, motivating the former local prep star to leave his mark at UTC in his final collegiate season.
"I feel 100-percent healthy and I can really move and break now," Haynes said. "It just feels so great to back out here with my teammates and have a camp where I can really contribute and make a difference."
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