Sept. 26, 2012
ATHENS -- Playing football and attending classes at the University of Georgia is a massive commitment. For junior offensive guard Chris Burnette, however, it wasn't enough.
On Sunday, in front of his teammates, friends and congregation at the church Burnette loves, he asked girlfriend Arielle Haynes to marry him.
She said yes.
To do it in the church that Burnette is a parking attendant for, and in front of so many of the couple's friends, was important for the beaming offensive lineman.
"It was so special. We tried to have our relationship centered on Christ and our faith from the get-go," Burnette said. "To be able to do it in front of people that we know and love, and people that love us and have helped us grow I could only imagine doing something that way."
The LaGrange, Ga., native was introduced to Haynes by former Bulldog Orson Charles. Charles attended Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., with current Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and Haynes' little brother Anthony.
"I literally met her the second week I was at Georgia," Burnette said. "Her little brother played basketball with Orson in high school. She was looking at Grad school here and she was really considering it. After we kind of met, it happened naturally."
Since being introduced during Burnette's first month in Athens, the couple has been dating for two and a half years. Haynes is currently head of public relations for a non-profit organization in Roswell, Ga.,
The proposal was a well-orchestrated collaboration between Burnette and the church as, prior to the 313-pounder getting down on one knee, a video was played that featured him talking about courage. At the conclusion of the video, Burnette showed more courage than he has ever shown on a football field.
"I said 'I've never been this nervous in my whole life'," he said. "Honestly, I feel like that was accurate because I had no idea what I was going to say. I had an idea of what she was going to say but I still didn't know what I was going to say. I didn't want it to just be will you marry me. I remember after she did say yes, I was shaking and I couldn't get the ring on her finger. It was a good kind of nervous."
When asked how he knew Haynes was "the one" Burnette was very clear in his answer.
"I think you can be compatible with a lot of people, but she had a lot of the Godly characteristics that I look for in a wife," he said. "She's very courageous, as I said in the video. She's very caring, loving. She's made a lot of sacrifices. That stuff alone and her character lets me know."