Newly named Spartans defensive backs coach talks about returning to East Lansing. He previously served on John L. Smith staff. Matt Charboneau
Lansing — Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio moved one step closer Friday to filling out his staff, announcing Paul Haynes has been hired to coach defensive backs.
Haynes, who was the head coach at Kent State from 2013-17, replaces Harlon Barnett, who left to become the defensive coordinator at Florida State.
This is Haynes’ second stint with the Spartans after coaching defensive backs under John L. Smith in 2003 and 2004.
He’s also coached defensive backs and defensive coordinator at Ohio State and Arkansas and spent one season in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“A lot of memories here,” Haynes said. “It's fun to see the improvements again that they've made, but it's just fun to be back, a lot of memories here. My daughter was born in Sparrow (Hospital). I actually proposed to my wife at the Kellogg Center, so there's a lot of memories and my family is excited to be back.”
The move came together quickly as Haynes was interviewed last Friday. He got a chance when he was in town to be around some of the players and was impressed.
“I brought my son with me and when we left, he sat there and said … ‘It just feels like they just exude championships,’” Haynes said. “That was the fun part about just meeting the kids, meeting the coaches and everything that's set up here to go win a championship.”
Michigan State coach discusses recent staff moves, including the addition of Paul Haynes as defensive backs coach. Matt Charboneau
“He signed his contract and we’re very, very excited about Paul,” Dantonio said after speaking at the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association clinic. “He’s coached here before so he’s got a Spartan background. But he’s been a secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, coached on the highest level in the secondary.
“He’s been a head coach and I think that gives him a big-picture feel. I think he’s an excellent recruiter, he was a coordinator at Arkansas as well, and I think that he’s a dynamic person as well. So, we’re very, very excited about that and he’ll start today.”
Dantonio has two more hires to make to replace defensive ends coach Mark Snyder, who also went to Florida State, and to name a 10th assistant, a new position for teams this season. He said he hopes to make those decisions by the middle of next week.
It was also announced that Mike Tressel, who was co-defensive coordinator with Barnett the past three seasons, will be the sole defensive coordinator while still coaching linebackers.
“Mike’s done a tremendous job just as Harlon had, but I think he’ll do an outstanding job,” Dantonio said. “He’s been deeply, deeply involved in every aspect.”
Michigan State hopes to play its spring game this year under the lights, or at least that’s what Dantonio is shooting for.
“Maybe at 5 o’clock or something like that,” Dantonio said. “That’s the plan, but I’ve got to talk to the administration about that. But I don’t think that should be a problem at 5.”
After starting spring practice early last season, Dantonio plans to do so again, shooting for Feb. 27 with the spring game on April 7.
Add freshman defensive end Lashawn Paulino-Bell to the list of players leaving the program.
“Lashawn Paulino-Bell has decided to transfer, as well, so he’ll be at a junior college this year,” Dantonio said. “There’s always gonna be a little attrition.”
Paulino-Bell, who redshirted in 2017, is the fourth player to transfer. He joins redshirt freshman quarterback Messiah deWeaver, freshman wide receiver Hunter Rison and sophomore wide receiver Trishton Jackson.