Henry Hynoski made quite an impact during his rookie season in the NFL.
The Elysburg native, who grew up playing high school football for Class A state champion Southern Columbia and later at the University of Pittsburgh, is still a small town boy at heart.
Those attributes were never more evident than they were at Blue Ridge Country Club n Wednesday afternoon when Hynoski was a special guest at the Fifth Annual Bo Tkach Memorial Golf Tournament, to raise money to create awareness for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other mental health issues while providing funding for youth athletic programs, scholarships and otherwise inaccessible individual mental health screening and treatment.
Even though the winning foursome of Glenn Harding, Butch Roman, Woody Saylor and Al Sellers fired a round of 61 and held the tiebreaker edge, more focus was put on money being raised in both the bidding auction and silent auction which featured several game jerseys and items from Hynoski, autographed footballs from the late Joe Paterno and new PSU head coach Bill O'Brien and more.
Hynoski was a four-year teammate of Ty Tkach, Bo's brother, and jumped at the chance to come back to help a charity started by a family that not only Henry, but his mom and dad, became quite close friends of.
With local players Robbie Frey and Mike Ryan signing free agent contracts following the draft, Henry hopes they both take the same road to the NFL as he did, even though his trip was a bit more nerve-wracking.
"A couple days before the draft I got calls from just about every team in the league wanting to know what my draft day phone number was," said Hynoski. "SoI thought things were looking pretty good. So on draft dayI sat there watching and watching and my name wasn't called so I was really disappointed.
"I couldn't get picked up right after the draft because there was no free agency with the lockout going on. So I sat down, talked to my family and told them it wasn't going to affect me. It's been my life-long dream to play in the NFL so it just motivated me to work harder to stay in shape over the summer until the lockout was over."
As soon as the lockout ended, Hynoski started getting calls from a bunch of different teams with the Giants being the first.
"I heard from about 15 different teams that were interested in my services," he said. "The whole time the lockout was going on, my family and I kept looking at rosters and their fullback situation and we kept saying we hope the Giants call. They did, I weighed the rest of my options the rest of the day and that night, I decided the Giants were the right fit."
Not one time after he signed did he ever feel that he couldn't make the team. and that's the attitude he feels Frey and Ryan need to take if they want to make it on the next level.
"I just told myself every day I was going to make the team and nothing was going to stop me," said Hynoski. "I just did everything I possibly could to get that done."
After he finally knew he made the team, he made the trip back home to pick up his stuff and moved to New York for good. Later that week, he found out he was going to be the starting fullback for the season opener. Hynoski went through that, the entire season, playoffs and to see everything culminate with a trip to the Super Bowl and winning it, was just a storybook finish.
"Hyno" talked about how tough it was to play in Green Bay, where the crowd was so loud, he couldn't hear any audibles being called by quarterback Eli Manning. He'd get right in his face and then yell back to Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs, whoever was the running back, to let him know what was going on.
Then there was the numerous defense thrown at the Giants offense by Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan that saw Manning call three or four plays in the huddle and choose the one he would run after getting to the lie of scrimmage.
"I don't think winning the Super Bowl has really sunk in yet," said Hynoski. "I think it's going to be somethingI'll look back on around five years after my playing days are over that I'll realize what I accomplished. right now, I'm still in awe about everything. It's just amazing."
When the Super Bowl was over, Hynoski admits he didn't know whether to cry or scream or what to do. So he ran over into the end zone where his parents were sitting and just raised his hands to them.
"I just wanted to much to repay my mom and day for going through this so having them stand up with me on that stage holding the Lombardi Trophy was the best gift I could ever give them," he said.
Hynoski thought the Giants had a very good draft, the team has great management and with everyone returning for the voluntary workouts, don't be surprised if a repeat is in order.