SCIOTOVILLE — Indeed, Braidan Haney will remain looking sharp — and will continue to sack quarterbacks — in Blue.
That’s because Haney, the East High School football standout and the school’s all-time record-holder for career sacks, has officially announced his intention to play college football — and will do so at Urbana University.
Haney, at a school assembly on Thursday in the East High School gymnasium, held an official signing ceremony — putting pen to paper on a national Letter-of-Intent to play inside linebacker and on special teams for the Blue Knights.
Haney also becomes the third senior standout with Scioto County ties to sign with Urbana —joining Joe Igaz of Portsmouth West and Grant Gifford of South Point, who previously played for the Tartans.
Both of those future Blue Knights made their official announcements on National Signing Day on Feb. 5, but because the Sciotoville Community school district was closed that day due to the recent flu outbreak, Haney had to reschedule his.
He was flanked in the gym by his parents Dan and Sara Haney; sister Brooke Haney; East High School head football Matt Miller, East High School Athletic Director Adam Bailey, members of the Tartan football team and several family members and friends.
Saying he was “not one for too much public speaking”, he didn’t waste any time and made his announcement short yet sweet —and donned an Urbana baseball hat and blue shirt.
Haney was brimming with excitement as he discussed his decision to become a Blue Knight.
Urbana is an NCAA Division II institution, and a member of the Mountain East Conference, in which all but three schools reside in the Mountain State of West Virginia.
The Blue Knights are coached by Tyler Haines, entering his sixth season at Urbana in 2020.
“It’s a dream come true and this is the reward for many years of hard work. I’m very blessed to have this opportunity in front of me and play college football and continue to play the game that I love and pursue my degree. There’s so many people to thank here at East and that played a part in me achieving my goal,” said Haney. “That’s the great thing about being here. There’s no jealousy. The people in this community look after one another and do what they can to support each other. I’m grateful for that and I’ve loved being here. Now I’m already looking forward to getting up there and getting started and I will continue to work hard and do what it takes to become the very best version of myself and the best football player I can be.”
What Haney will be is an inside linebacker, where he excelled in his senior season in East’s 4-4 base — after transferring back to the Tartans following his junior campaign at Notre Dame.
He was a four-time all-Southern Ohio Conference Division I first-team honoree, and was the SOC I Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
He was a two-time first-team all-Southeast District Division VII defensive player —first as a sophomore as an end and then as a senior as a linebacker.
Speaking of that dominant senior season, in which he matched his jersey number of 45 for his number of career sacks, he made 105 tackles — with 73 being solo and the other 32 coming assisted.
“It’s very ironic that I wore number 45 and ended up with 45 sacks,” said Haney. “But my coaches trusted me that I could make plays no matter what defense we were in or whom we were playing against. The goal was get to the quarterback and stop the play from ever happening.”
He recorded 14 tackles for loss, as his seven sacks pushed him to 45 — while he also collected two interceptions, forced six fumbles and made two fumble recoveries.
Miller, who coached Haney for two seasons, was most impressed with his “instincts”, which at the collegiate level can also translate to playing the position of strong safety.
“Braidan has a good knack for seeing what is coming. Just based off of sets and formations and everything else,” said the coach. “He has a great ability to read and understand that this is probably the play that is coming. His instincts to get to the ball are top-notch. Braidan being in the middle covered up a lot of things last year, where we were so young and inexperienced. He just has the type of drive and will power that no matter where they put him, he will put his body out there wherever it needs to be.”
The Tartans play primarily run-heavy teams in the SOC I, including Notre Dame and Symmes Valley, so Haney has a good sense on the inside which direction the opponent will run the ball.
Of course, with the spread-the-field formation offenses of today, Haney is aware of his upcoming adjustment to face many more pass-oriented attacks.
He stands at five-feet 10-inches tall and weighs roughly 200 pounds.
“The physicality of the game will be different, but I don’t think Braidan will have any problem with it,” said Miller. “Getting reads off pass plays and play-action, he will see more passing teams than we normally see. But Braidan is the type that will get in there and learn everything. I think he has a great chance of getting on the field this year.”
Haney also expressed his desire to play on special teams for the Blue Knights.
“I will play anywhere they want me. I just want to get on the field and contribute any way I can,” he said.
And Miller believes that Haney will do whatever it takes to see snaps.
“I’m beyond thrilled for Braidan. He has put in a lot of hard work. Even as a freshman coming in, he wasn’t the biggest kid. He weighed 150 pounds. But he put in the work in the weight room and in film, he does everything the right way,” said Miller. “He is a great kid and an extremely hard worker. He is in the weight room four times a day, whether it is working on strength or agility. He has a bright future ahead of him. I am happy for him and this is a big thing for our program.”
Haney said he plans to major in exercise physiology, as he and Gifford will be roommates.
Two things for sure, he will continue to don the color Blue —and will continue to come after quarterbacks.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved