TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Redshirt junior wide receiver Willie Haulstead sat out the 2011 season with a concussion sustained in practice before the season began, but his return this spring has added to a very deep receiving corps.
“I had a smile from ear-to-ear, knowing I’m out there playing football, the game that I love,” Haulstead said about being back on the practice field.
Haulstead finished the 2010 season as the Seminoles third leading receiver with 38 receptions, but he led the team in touchdown catches (6) and yards per catch (15.4) and ranked second in receiving yards (587). Fisher referred to him as the team’s top receiver heading into the 2011 season. He did return for some late season practice during Champs Sports Bowl preparation, but did not play against Notre Dame.
“He was productive when he got out there and had a great attitude,” Fisher said about Haulstead’s return late last season.
Fisher went on to say that Haulstead isn’t completely back to his old self but has been progressing that way this spring.
“He’s starting to get better,” Fisher said. “He still needs to lose some weight; he got a little big. If not I’m going to move him to middle linebacker….He hurt his heel right off the bat [in spring ball] which hindered him. He’s playing better, moving better. He had a nice catch and run for a long touchdown the other day. He’s progressing. He needs to have a great summer to get back in shape and get back to that old form.”
MORE FROM WR WILLIE HAULSTEAD
After the success you had in 2010, how tough was it sitting out all of last season?“I was just really shocked that it happened; that I had to sit out the whole season.”
Did it ever cross your mind that you might not get back out on the field?“It crossed my mind, but I just prayed up about it and knew that God was going to send me back if he wanted me to play.”
Did you feel like you had something to prove after coming back?“I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove. I just felt like I had to go out there and do the same things I had done before.”
What motivated you to cut all your hair off?“I don’t know. I just decided New Year’s Day, ‘I’m fixin to just cut my hair.’ My girlfriend and my mom were like, ‘Are you for real.’ “I just got scissors and cut a big spot on the side of my head, so now I know I had to cut it off.” – said he had dreads for about 5 years “It feels good. I don’t really get in the way.” Did a lot of people not recognize you?“There were a lot people calling me Telvin [Smith] and Avis [Commack]. I don’t know why. I know I look way better than them.” Who helped encourage you while you were out last season?“EJ. He told me, ‘Don’t rush it. We really need you, but do nothing stupid. Don’t try to come back when you’re not ready.’”
Do you ever think about the big hit that knocked you out of last season?“Oh, no, I’ve never thought about it. It was just something that just happened. It could happen to anybody. It could happen again, but I’m not going to change the way I play because I’m worried about something. I’m playing a physical sport. It’s brutal out there. I know I have to take a hit if I’m going to help the team.”
What’s the competition – which appears deeper with people like Rashad Greene – like at receiver now that you’re back?“I look at it the same. I don’t look at stuff like that to worry me. If it worries me I’m going to play slower. I go out there like everybody still has to prove a point; everybody’s fighting for a position.”