When Bo Hines says he has big political dreams, he’s not kidding.
“Governor of North Carolina and the ultimate goal would be president,” Hines said.
That’s why, after a successful freshman football season at N.C. State, the Charlotte native decided to transfer to Yale, where five U.S. presidents have passed through undergrad or law school.
When the Wolfpack opens training camp next week, Hines, the team’s leading receiver a year ago, will be in New Haven, Conn., preparing for his first semester in Yale’s renowned political science program. He will also play football for the Bulldogs, who went 8-2 last season and had one of the best Football Championship Subdivision offenses in the country.
Hines, who had 45 catches for 616 yards at N.C. State last season, could have waited on Yale. But at 19, Hines made up his mind about his future and didn’t see the point in delaying his dreams.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity in the realm of academics, one that sets me up for a great future,” Hines said in a recent interview. “Hopefully, I’ll get my degree and get a shot at the NFL. Then I can go to law school and jump into politics.”
Most teenagers don’t know what they want for lunch, Hines has the next 25 years mapped out.
“I don’t know how it will all work out, but that’s the plan,” Hines said.
Robert Nicholas Hines has always been ambitious, his father Todd says, but he’s also very unselfish.
“He’s not a ‘me’ type person,” Todd Hines said. “That makes him really unique. Bo has always been interested in helping other people.”
Classes in government and religion at Charlotte Christian sparked Hines’ interest in politics. A Republican, he has carefully studied the careers of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.
Hines had considered going to Harvard out of high school but instead graduated early and enrolled at N.C. State in Jan. 2014.
He was the star of the Wolfpack’s spring game that year with 10 catches for 132 yards. He had nine catches for 85 yards in his first college game, a 24-23 win against Georgia Southern. He had eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown during a loss to then-No. 1-ranked Florida State.
Hines’ production tailed off at the end of the season as N.C. State focused on the running game. Before N.C. State’s bowl win in late December, Hines had already started thinking about Yale.
But if Hines had, say 60 or 70 catches for close to 1,000 yards, would he have left for the Ivy League?
“That’s a tough question,” Hines said. “I don’t think it would have changed my decision. I still think I would have followed my academic dreams.”
‘A perfect fit’
It didn’t take Yale coach Tony Reno long to be impressed by Hines.
“When we met Bo we fell in love with the kid,” Reno said. “He’s everything we’re looking for.”
Reno has already benefited from one ACC transfer from Charlotte. Quarterback Morgan Roberts, who starred at Charlotte Country Day and began his college career at Clemson, led the Ivy League with 3,230 passing yards (in only 10 games), and 22 TD passes. He is also majoring in political science.
Hines worked out with Roberts this summer in Charlotte. The Bulldogs had two receivers with more than 70 catches last season and ranked fifth in the FCS in passing offense.
“He’s a perfect fit for our offense,” Reno said.
Practice won’t start for Yale until Aug. 17, and the first game isn’t until Sept. 19. Hines said he will miss playing in front of 57,000 fans at N.C. State, and the facilities at Yale aren’t at quite the same level.
“You only need so much,” Hines said. “Honestly, there’s a lot of tradition here, and the Yale Bowl is awesome.”
Hines said he has plans to go to an N.C. State game in November after Yale’s season is finished.
“I still love N.C. State and have a lot of friends at the school and on the team,” Hines said. “I’m glad I had the experience that I did there.”
Hines and Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett remain close friends. Brissett recently attended Hines’ sister’s wedding in Charlotte. Hines said he will be rooting for his former quarterback this season.
“He’s awesome,” Hines said. “He’ll always be a part of my family.”
But after one season with Brissett and one year of big-time college football, Hines knew there was more out there for him.
CNN recently called Todd Hines about a possible story on his son. Their first question was why Bo left N.C. State. Hines said there was a simple answer.
“The reality is football can be gone overnight,” Todd Hines said. “He proved last year he could compete on the field at the highest level. The opportunity at Yale gives him the best platform to do what he wants to do for the rest of his life.”
And Bo Hines certainly has big plans for the rest of his life.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio