You can’t get Bo Hines to look back.
You can try but the former N.C. State receiver, who left for the Ivy League three years ago, only looks ahead.
And to Hines, every day looks like his 54-yard touchdown did against Florida State in 2014: wide open spaces without an obstacle in sight.
Football is now part of Hines’ past. Chronic shoulder problems forced him to give up the game this summer before his senior season at Yale.
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Hines will watch the Wolfpack and Seminoles on Saturday from New Haven, Conn., and there might be a slight nostalgic twinge, but there’s a reason he made the unusual choice to leave the ACC for the Ivy League.
“There are definitely days I miss walking into the Murphy Center,” Hines said in a recent interview. “I knew the opportunity to make a name for myself in the political realm (at Yale) was going to be bigger than what I would have been able to do at N.C. State.”
N.C. State and Florida State will meet again on the football field on Saturday. In an alternate universe, Hines would be a senior for the Wolfpack and closing in on the school career record for receptions.
As a true freshman in 2014, the 6-1, 205-pound slot receiver led the Wolfpack in catches (45) and receiving yards (616). Hines’ brightest moment came against Florida State on Sept. 27 at Carter-Finley Stadium.
On the second play of the game, Hines fooled FSU safety Tyler Hunter with a double move and then caught the ball at the FSU 30-yard line. He ran untouched into the end zone for a 54-yard score.
N.C. State jumped out to a 24-7 lead on the No. 1-ranked team before losing 56-41. Hines finished with eight catches for 103 yards. The touchdown wound up being the only one of his college career.
Hines decided to transfer from N.C. State to Yale in January 2015. He had quickly developed a good rapport with quarterback Jacoby Brissett and the two remain close friends. Another season older, stronger and with Brissett, who knows what kind of numbers Hines could have produced at N.C. State.
Without Hines, Brissett struggled to find a reliable receiver in 2015. Derailed by injuries at running back, N.C. State struggled to a 7-6 record.
“Obviously, it was hard to replace him,” said N.C. State center Garrett Bradbury, who was Hines’ high school teammate, too. “I wanted to keep playing with him, but I know his aspirations were way bigger than football.”
When Hines left N.C. State, he said he thought Yale would give him a head start on his political career and he would still have a chance to make the NFL.
Hines was never healthy enough at Yale to make an impression on the NFL. In two games for the Bulldogs in his sophomore season, he caught 11 passes for 134 yards.
He needed reconstructive surgery of the AC joint in his right shoulder after the 2015 season. He went to renowned orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., for surgery.
A broken collarbone kept him off the field for the 2016 season. He tried to rehabilitate and get back on the field this season but realized the injuries were too much to overcome.
“The next shoulder injury could be debilitating for a lifetime,” Hines said. “That’s not really a risk I’m willing to take.”
On to politics
The 22-year-old Republican from Charlotte took the injuries as a sign from God to move onto his political career.
He already chooses his words like a classically-trained politician. Hines worked this summer for Indiana governor Eric Holcomb and U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota).
His focus while working at Holcomb’s office was “minimizing bureaucracy in Indiana,” he said.
While working for Rounds, Hines was part of the senator’s team to come up with a health care alternative for the Affordable Care Act.
“Bo’s on to bigger and better things,” Bradbury said.
Football is his past
In between his political apprenticeships this summer, Hines found time for his personal life. In June, he married Olivia Andretti. The two first met in middle school in Charlotte.
Next year, Olivia, who graduated from the University of North Carolina, will be off to medical school, and Hines will be at law school.
“She’s way smarter than me,” Hines said.
Yale and Harvard are on their list, as are Georgetown and Duke. Wait, Duke?
“We’d cover the Triangle,” Hines joked. “It’s good for politics.”
Brissett and Bradbury went to the wedding. Hines also still keeps up with current N.C. State players Stephen Louis and B.J. Hill, who were his roommates in 2014.
He watched the Wolfpack’s 35-28 loss to South Carolina in the opener. He’ll keep tabs on the team the rest of the way, too.
But football is his past, and Hines’ doesn’t look back, only forward. He’s already making plans to run for the House of Representatives in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district, in either 2020 or 2022.
There are bigger goals after that. Governor in his home state is on his list of goals. And by the time he turns 35 in 2030 – who knows? – there might be a shot at the White House.
Hines has learned the hard way that plans can change, but he has also figured out how to adapt to them.
“My plan didn’t work out the way I intended, but I find an immense amount of happiness in the political world,” Hines said.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio