In the world of sports, improvement on the field is truly all anybody can ask for.
And in the case of Braidan Haney, the improvement is coming at a fast and furious pace.
The junior, who will be suiting up for Notre Dame during the 2018 season, collected top-five marks against his competition in the shuttle, the broad jump, and the 40 at the Blue-Grey Northeast Super Regional Combine, which was held at the NovaCare Complex Eagles’ Training Facility in Philadelphia, Penn. from June 30 to July 1.
Not surprisingly, the overall experience rated as an A-plus for the standout defensive end.
“It was such a great experience for me,” Haney said. “From meeting all of the coaches to participating in the combine itself, it was amazing. You’re facing kids who are the best of the best from where they’re from and are at the top of their regions or conferences statistically. This combine helped me out a lot because I know where I’m at as a player.”
Haney, who has totaled 136 tackles (45 for loss) and 33 sacks in his first two seasons of high school competition and has started in both of his high school seasons to date for the East football program, which went 19-4 in 2016 and 2017 combined, collected the fastest shuttle time (4.28) among the 18 additional hands were measured as defensive linemen in the combine. His 8-6 broad jump was the third best mark of anyone competing in the combine, while his 4.96 40 time was the fifth quickest in the group.
To consider how quick Haney’s shuttle time was, consider this: his shuttle would’ve tied the junior-to-be for second place amongst all quarterbacks and fourth place when going up against all running backs, where 10 and nine players, respectively, took part in combine testing. Among defensive backs, Haney would’ve clicked off the third-fastest time of that group, which had nine players in all, and, if stacked up against linebackers, would’ve had the third-fastest time in that department, where 15 additional hands were testing in a deep and talented group.
“My main goal was to beat my own personal standards,” Haney said. “In all my measurables, I beat everything that I had done previously except my 40 time. That just shows that I’ve improved.”
As part of the combine, Haney and the remaining members who participated in the combine got to visit the NovaCare Complex, which is the home of the Eagles, who won their first Super Bowl Championship in February and feature players such as former Marshall standout Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox, Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith, LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Nick Foles, and last, but not least, Carson Wentz.
“It was very, very surreal,” Haney said. “We were invited to a dinner there, and all of these athletes are in this room. It’s just like, ‘OK, this is very cool.’ The next day, we’re in the Philadelphia Eagles’ training facility. We’re practicing in the same facility as the Super Bowl Champions. I felt like pinching myself because it felt like a dream.”
With Haney’s performance at the combine, it’s quite possible that the youngster could obtain an invitation to the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl when the invitations are handed out later this month. But regardless of whether or not an invite materializes, Haney is pleased with what he’s accomplished so far.
“Even if I don’t make the team, I can be happy with myself because I worked hard to improve and show progress, and did so.”
For now, it’s time to turn the clock to a different part of the football realm — the high school scene. Haney, who will suit up for Notre Dame after transferring from East, is already looking forward to seeing what the Titans can become as a finished product.
“I can’t wait for the season to get started,” Haney said. “We’re going to shock a lot of people.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT