Ticats rookie receiver Haynes believes he’s the CFL’s fastest player

Akeem Haynes has yet to play a down in the CFL, but the rookie receiver believes he’s the league’s fastest player.

“Without a doubt,” said the 25-year-old Calgary resident, who signed last month with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. “I don’t think there’d be anybody who could touch me, in all honesty.”

Haynes has an Olympic medal to back that up. The five-foot-seven, 172-pound Haynes – who’s roughly 10 pounds heavier than his usual running weight – ran the lead leg for Canada’s bronze medal-winning 4×100 metre relay team at the 2016 Rio Games.

In 2015, Haynes ran an indoor 60-metre race in 6.51 seconds in altitude in Arizona. That would’ve tied him with Donovan Bailey of Oakville, Ont., – the ’96 Olympic 100-metre champion and former world’s fastest man – for the third-fastest time in Canadian track history.

Montreal’s Bruny Surin holds the record of 6.45 seconds set in 1993, just ahead of Toronto’s Mark McKoy (6.49 seconds. also in ’93). Haynes’ best 60-metre time at sea level is 6.55 seconds.

Also in 2015, Haynes registered a personal-best 100-metre effort of 10.15 seconds, a time he says should’ve been lower.

“I literally shut it down after 50, 55 metres,” he said. “When I crossed the line I was like, ‘Aw crap, I should’ve ran that one all the way through,’ because that would’ve been the sub-10 second one.”

Haynes did post a 10.06-second time in another 100-metre event but it was deemed wind-aided.

Haynes is returning to football after an eight-year hiatus. He played quarterback, running back and kick returner in high school but reluctantly gave up the game upon graduation in 2010 because the junior college he attended – Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas – didn’t have a football program.

Haynes eventually earned a track scholarship at Alabama, securing a general health degree as well as All-American honours. He’ll work as a receiver with the Ticats but is also expected to return kicks.

In Hamilton, Haynes won’t have to wait long to see how he measures up in overall quickness. Ticats receiver/kick-returner Brandon Banks, himself a former sprinter, is generally regarded as the CFL’s fastest player.

“Speedy B is a beast and should believe he’s the fastest,” Haynes said. “So should (Ticats receiver) Willie Quinn, (Ottawa receiver/kick-returner) Diontae Spencer and every other speedster in the league.

“I’m a little heavier and have had one true speed session since I started training but I believe I am (the fastest) regardless of the fact.”

In or out of pads.

“I don’t believe it would matter,” Haynes said. “I think it would be even worse without pads.”

Montreal Alouettes defensive back Tevaughn Campbell, a Toronto native, holds the CFL combine’s 40-yard dash record. In 2015, the six-foot, 185-pound former Regina Rams star and ’12 Canada West 60-metre track champion covered it in 4.363 seconds.

Haynes said his last official 40-yard event was in Grade 11 and he finished in 4.27 seconds. Cincinnati Bengals receiver John Ross holds the NFL combine’s 40-yard mark of 4.22 seconds.

Haynes has a novel idea about how the CFL could determine its fastest players: Establish a competition and donate the proceeds to charity.

“I think that would be crazy cool,” he said. “Pick the four fastest guys in each division and line up on the track or field and race 60 or 100 metres.

“Then run a 4×100 metre relay, East versus West, with the money going to charity. The winners could have bragging rights but it would all be for a great cause.”