Penn State football: 5 great Nittany Lions who didn’t live up to the NFL hype

Ki-Jana Carter of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport
Ki-Jana Carter of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport /
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Overrated Penn State football players, NFL Busts
Penn State football (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

It was an inauspicious start to Michael Haynes’ career at Penn State as he didn’t see the field as a freshman. In the 2000 season when he was a sophomore, however, he started to make a name for himself. Though not a starter, the big defensive lineman made his presence felt as he registered six sacks and 31 tackles on the season, paving the way for him to take a starting job the following season.

As a starter in his sophomore season, Haynes wasn’t necessarily a game-changing force and actually had worse sack numbers than he did as a rotational player. The defensive lineman garnered only four sacks on the season but did have 41 tackles and 11 tackles for loss. Even still, no one could’ve expected that he would burst out for the senior campaign he put forth.

In the 2002 season, Haynes had one for the ages. He not only racked up 80 tackles but set a school record (since broken) with 15 sacks to go with 23 tackles for loss and an absurd seven forced fumbles. That was good enough to win him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and to slot him third at Penn State in career sacks.

After that historic season, Haynes was selected by the Chicago Bears with the No. 14 pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. However, the big man could never replicate what he did in college. He was unable to crack the starting lineup over his first three seasons and was cut in 2006. The New Orleans Saints and New York Jets briefly picked him up but cut him soon after over the next two seasons before he was out of the league entirely.