Garner running back Nyheim Hines on record-breaking pace

cbest@newsobserver.comNovember 28, 2013 

— There’s a pile of recruiting mail in his home that would stand about two feet high if stacked, but Garner junior Nyheim Hines just walks by it.

He hasn’t been in that world – the one where college coaches dream of him on their roster – since mid-October except for a few telephone conversations and a couple of Saturday trips to attend college games.

The Garner Magnet High football star has more pressing issues to address. He’s preparing for the next NCHSAA football playoff game at rival Middle Creek Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

For the 5-foot-9, 182-pound runner, that means another chance to add to his record-breaking season. Hines is poised to break the school record of 3,125 yards in a season set by Anthony Barbour while leading the Trojans to the 1987 state championship.

Hines has rushed for 3,076 yards and 50 touchdowns this season. His yardage would put him second in the nation this season on the list. His 454-yard game against Fayetteville Britt in the second round of the playoffs was only the third time in the 100-year history of the NCHSAA that a runner has totaled more than 400 yards in a playoff game.

Hines has run for more than 175 yards in every game since getting 85 yards in a season-opening 21-16 win against Middle Creek. He averages 4.6 touchdowns per game.

Hines is part of a top-notch group of Triangle area running backs in the class of 2015 that is likely to be the best the area has ever produced. It includes Princeton’s Johnny Frasier (2,995 yards rushing) and Wake Forest’s Bryce Love (1,876 yards rushing, 26 rushing TDs).

This has been a dream season for Hines, who grew up enamored with the running style of former Florida State and Tampa Bay standout Warrick Dunn.

Hines, like Dunn, is also a fine receiver and has eight touchdown catches and 600 yards in receptions.

Moving from Leesville

After playing his freshman year at Leesville Road and contributing in reserve duty for the Pride, Hines moved to Garner before his sophomore season. His mom sold her house in the Leesville district and he and his twin sister, Nyah, moved in with their father, who lived in Garner.

“I knew Garner had a good program because I went to some games in the past with a cousin who went there,” Hines said. “It just worked out that it was my base school.”

Hines saw varied duty in his sophomore season at Garner, backing up lead runner Raevon Smith and spending time at receiver, on defense and returning kicks.

He fit in immediately and credits the community at Garner.

“When you’ve got a kid on the team who’s got the best attitude and is your best player, you’ve got something,” assistant coach Stancil Hines said.

“Every high school has its cliques and the clique you end up in is a lot of times because it’s where you spend the most time,” Hines said. “For me, that’s football players because we’re with each other so much. But we’re all a big family.

“The great thing about Garner is that is easy to move from one clique and into another and talk to one another, fit in easily.”

Football first

Hines started playing football when he was eight years old. Later, his dad told him he should consider running track. Hines was hesitant at first, then his dad told him that track would help him for football.

“That changed the way I look at track and I soon found out I loved track as well,” Hines said.

He’s good at it as well, finishing third in the 4A state high school 300-meter hurdle championships as a sophomore last spring. His dedication to both sports has caused some to wonder about his commitment to football, but he credits his work on the track running and jumping hurdles for his excellence on the football field.

“Track makes me faster and more in shape for football,” he said. “I can tell I’m in so much better shape than most guys early in the season and in the fourth quarter.”

Hines has remained remarkably durable despite touching the ball 320 times this season. He ices a lot, uses the weekends for rest and tries to stay as flexible as possible.

Hines shares his love of track and field with his sister, who also has played on Garner’s last two conference championship volleyball squads.

A little seam

Hines’ explosive plays number in the dozens, thanks to an offensive line that’s really good at angle blocking.

“We’ve had to angle block because of our size,” Garner offensive line coach Brandon Perry said. “Nyheim would thrive in any style: the I-formation, running the stretch play out of the spread, you name it. But the angle blocking works with him because he doesn’t need everybody in the hole knocked off of their feet to get going. He just needs that little seam.”

On the rare play where a missed block caused a negative or “minus” result, Perry says simply: “Ya’ll block, we’ll score.”

Hines has become the focal point of the Trojans’ offense. He helped lead a team into the third round for the fourth straight season. The program is a win away from hosting its third straight 4AA Eastern Regional championship game.

“We know with Nyheim, we could beat anybody,” Garner offensive coordinator Adam Hamrick said. “You’ve always got a chance when you’ve got the best player on the field.”

Hines has proven to be just that. His season puts him in a group of less than 100 players nationally who have compiled more than 3,000 yards rushing in a season in the 100-plus-year history of high school football.

“I really don’t think about yardage or stats a lot of the time,” he said. “If I have 86 yards or 400 yards, a win is a win for me. If we work hard as a team during the week, good things will happen.”

He does have a couple of statistical goals in mind each week. He’d like to rush for more than 200 yards every game and gain at least 10 yards on every play (he averages 10.57 yards per rush).

Hines’ future is bright. He knows the calls and scholarship offers from schools will increase but he doesn’t know what he wants in a school yet.

For now, though, he’ll keep his focus on his team’s side of the scoreboard every Friday night.

“Anytime you have a season like the one I’m having, you just do your best to make sure it keeps going,” Hines said. “This is the best place I’ve ever been in my life. I’m very proud to be a Trojan.”

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