Paul Haynes enters his third season as head coach at Kent State University and his 10th season affiliated with the program. Haynes was introduced as the Golden Flashes' 21st head football coach on Dec. 18, 2012, 25 years after he walked on to play football at Kent State as a college freshman.
In his first season, Haynes helped produce five All-Mid-American Conference selections, an SI.com All-American (Roosevelt Nix), an Academic All-American (Jordan Italiano) and four Academic All-MAC selections, which tied for the second most in the conference.
On Aug. 29, 2013, Haynes became the first Kent State rookie head coach to win a season opener since 1988. He was also the Flashes' first rookie head coach to win a MAC road opener since 1986. At the end of the season, he joined Glen Mason as the only Kent State head coaches to defeat both Miami and Ohio in their first season. In May of 2014, Dri Archer became just the fifth Kent State player since 1974, to be selected in one of the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.
Following the 2014 season, 10 Golden Flashes earned spots on the Academic All-MAC Team, including Italiano, who was named to the Academic All-America First Team. Seven of those 10 were named Distinguished Scholar Athletes, tying Kent State for the most slections in the conference. Three Flashes earned all-conference honors, including Casey Pierce, who became just the third player in Kent State history selected to play in the Senior Bowl.
"I am very excited to welcome Paul back to the Kent State family," said Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen of the hiring of Haynes. "During our search for a new head coach, I was looking for someone who had the qualities that could carry on the recent success of the football program. Those qualities include leadership, a genuine interest in our student-athletes, integrity and an understanding of Kent State and the Mid-American Conference. Ohio recruiting ties were also very important. Paul hits on every one of those areas. In hiring Paul we are also making a significant investment in the head coaching position here at Kent State."
Haynes, 46, spent the 2012 season as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas and also served as the secondary coach for the Razorbacks. Haynes joined the Arkansas staff in December 2011, taking over the Razorbacks' defense when it dominated No. 11 Kansas State 29-16 in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Haynes spent the previous seven seasons at Ohio State, serving as the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in 2011 and as defensive backs coach from 2005-10. He also worked with former Head Coach Darrell Hazell on Jim Tressel's Ohio State staff from 2005-10.
In Haynes' seven years in Columbus, the Buckeyes compiled a 66-11 record, won six Big Ten titles and played in six consecutive BCS games. Ohio State defensive backs also boasted five first-team All-Americans and 10 first-team All-Big Ten selections in those seasons. Nine of the defensive backs Haynes coached at Ohio State were selected in the 2006-12 NFL Drafts, including first rounders Malcom Jenkins and Donte Whitner. In 2008, Jenkins won the Thorpe Award, as the nation's best defensive back.
The 2012 season at Arkansas was Haynes' third stint on a John L.Smith coaching staff. He also worked under Smith at Michigan State, serving as defensive backs coach from 2003-04, and at Louisville, as defensive backs coach in 2002.
This is Haynes' second homecoming at Kent State. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach under former Golden Flashes head coach Dean Pees, who is now the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. After coaching Kent State's defensive backs in 1999, Haynes was promoted to assistant head coach and safeties coach in 2000. Haynes then moved on to the NFL in 2001, spending one season as the defensive quality control coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Haynes' coaching career also includes stops at Northern Iowa (running backs and secondary, 1997-98), Ferris State (defensive backs, 1995-96), Bowling Green (graduate assistant, 1994) and St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus (assistant coach, 1993).
Known as "Ice" during his playing days, Haynes walked on at Kent State in the fall of 1987 and went on to play four years for the Golden Flashes. As a freshman, he led the team in interceptions during Kent State's 7-4 season under Glen Mason. As a sophomore, Haynes led the team with 116 tackles. After missing the 1989 campaign with a knee injury, he earned All-MAC honors his final two years and ended his career with 440 tackles, a total that ranks seventh in Kent State history.
Prior to enrolling at Kent State, Haynes earned three letters in football at St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus, including one during the team's 1985 state championship season. He also made OHSAA state tournament appearances in both basketball and track, earning four track letters and two basketball monograms.
Haynes was born on July 11, 1969. He and his wife, Danita, who graduated from Florida A&M with an education degree, have three children: daughters Jordyn and Kennedy Rose and son Tarron.