Nyheim Hines worked throughout his high school athletic career to appreciate every opportunity to play high school sports. He got a painful reminder why this spring when he missed his senior season of track and field with a knee injury.
“You better appreciate every chance and do your best that day,” the Garner Magnet High graduate said. “You only get one chance at that day and you don’t know what is happening tomorrow.
“To me, it is unimaginable that I would not run track my senior year. But it happened.”
Hines was one of the top college football prospects in the country last fall. He set the school career rushing record while rumbling for 2,362 yards and leading the Trojans to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state semifinals.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
His highlight film could be feature length as could his recruiting saga.
Colleges from all over the country sent literature extolling the benefits of coming to their school. National recruiting experts speculated on where the 5-foot-8, 190-pound running back with great hands would go.
He said the recruiting process was one of the most fun things he has ever done. He had a chance to talk to some of the nation’s top college coaches and to visit campus. “Imagine walking into Urban Meyer’s office and sitting there talking football,” he said.
But the pressure of making a decision was unrelenting until he decided to stay close to home, signing with N.C. State, where his twin sister, Nyah, will compete in track.
He hopes that the N.C. State coaches can work out a way for him to compete in track at N.C. State. He has missed it.
Track has been a fickle suitor.
Hines is among the nation’s top track athletes. He had three top-five finishes in the New Balance Nationals in 2014 and was runner-up in the state 4A championships in 100 meters and 300-meter hurdles that same year.
But he had never won a high school state track championship before winning the 55 hurdles at this year’s state 4A indoor championships.
He won that day with a torn medial collateral ligament and a small fracture in his knee, holdovers from a late-season football knee injury.
The prescription to return to full speed was rest. Therefore, no track this spring.
Hines provided so many football thrills in high school that he is carrying expectations with him to the Wolfpack. He doesn’t consider them a burden.
“I want to contribute as much as I can whenever I can,” he said. “I have been working out with some of the State players and I’ve already seen that football in college is at a different level.”
Speed and flexibility
Hines said he used to pray to be taller. He loved running the hurdles and a little more height would have helped. There are tall people in the family, but not him.
But he knows he did well in the genetic lottery.
His father Darren was a great athlete at Athens Drive High and at Lenoir-Rhyne. A knee injury ended Darren Hines’ NFL hopes.
Nyheim got his dad’s speed and some of his amazing flexibility.
“People think I’m a good athlete, but from what I’ve been told, my dad was so much better,” Hines said. “I’ve had several people tell me that he could kick a basketball backboard. They’ve seen him do it. I think he won a lot of bets in college doing it.
“He can still do a much better split than I can. I would love to be able to see him when he was my age.”
Hines said that in a way he feels like every time he steps on a field or a track, that he is competing for his family, especially his dad.
And every time he gets a chance to compete, he cherishes it because he understands that you only have one today.
Meet Nyheim Hines
Why Hines? Set school career rushing record. Ran for 2,362 yards as a senior. Led Trojans to state 4A semifinals as a junior. Won state 4A indoor 55 meters championship.
College choice: N.C. State.
Favorite course: Speech or AP statistics.
World’s biggest problem: Misunderstandings.
Fascinated to learn: How to play the saxophone.
Impactful book: ‘‘Tears of Tigers’’ by Sharon M. Draper. The book made me realize that in life you only get one turn. Also, while life can feel long, opportunity only knocks shortly.
It is hard to believe that: America had to fight a Civil War.
Best high school memory: The recruiting process.
Childhood toy: Sega (Sonic The Hedgehog).
Biggest thrill: That feeling before a football game or before a big race.
Biggest rival: Myself.
My favorite charity is: Working with kids in any fashion (helping hands, field day).
Best movie: The “Avengers” or “Friday Night Lights.”
Ideal guest list: Kay Yow, President Barack Obama, Tavon Austin.
Something that you enjoy that would surprise people: Doing acrobatic flips.