Former Tigers on prowl for playing time
After sitting out a season to redshirt, former Southern Columbia football standouts Henry Hynoski and Josh Marks are ready and raring to go for their initial football seasons at the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, respectively.
The pair, who helped Southern win four straight PIAA Class A state championships during their high school careers, are busy at their respective schools taking summer classes and working out with their teammates in preparation for preseason camps later this summer.
“I’m out here (Pittsburgh) living with five of my teammates,” said Hynoski, the 2006 AP Class A Player of the Year, by phone this week. “I have classes twice a week, and we have workouts Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
Hynoski, a fullback, said the workouts, despite the fact that they are summer practices, are pretty tough.
“We’re in a high intensity period right now,” he said. “We’re trying to get in the best shape possible before camp starts. We’ve been doing a lot of lifting and running, and just trying to be stronger overall.”
Similarly Marks, an offensive lineman, is at Penn State doing the same.
“We work out every morning at 6 a.m.,” Marks said. “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday we lift, and on Tuesday and Thursday, we run. Then we rotate the next week, and run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and lift two days.”
The running is not just soft jogging either, according to Marks.
“We do a lot of endurance running,” he said. “We’ll run 10 300s, and do speed and agility work.”
The thought of running 10 300-meter intervals could be one of the few things that might faze a 300-pounder, but Marks said he’s adjusted nicely to the regimen.
“It’s completely different from last year,” Marks said. “After being in the program for a year, I’m in better shape. I guess it’s a case of maturing, too.”
In fact, Marks has dropped almost 15 pounds from his high school playing weight of 315.
“They wanted me to lose some weight so my footwork would be better,” Marks said. “I’m down to 302 now.”
Hynoski is still roughly at his high school weight of 245, but like Marks, said the year of maturity has paid off.
“I’m pretty much at the weight I was at in high school, but I’ve lost a lot of fat and put on more muscle. I feel stronger. My weightlifting maxes went up tremendously. I am going to try to lose five pounds by camp.”
Both players are looking at backup jobs entering the season. Hynoski is listed as the Panthers’ No. 2 fullback, and Marks is listed as backup right guard for the Nittany Lions.
“Our starting fullback, Condredge Collins, is great,” Hynoski said. “Just about everybody has him listed as a number one pick in the draft right now. But we have a lot of rotations in the backfield. Our fullbacks and tailbacks take a beating, so even a second team guy will be called on once in a while. Once he graduates things look better for me.”
Offensive line will be one of Penn State’s strengths this season, according to Marks.
“We have all five linemen coming back, so beating somebody into the starting lineup would be tough,” Marks said. “Right now, I’m number two at right guard coming out of spring ball.But I’m also on the first team for extra points and field goals. Hopefully things will be the same. I’ll be there ready to play if one of the starting guards gets hurt.”
Both Pitt and Penn State had tough seasons last year, the Panthers mostly on the field with a 5-7 record, and the Nittany Lions mostly off the field, with a slew of player arrests and suspensions for on-campus and off-campus incidents.
“We have a lot of talent coming back, and it’s amazing the difference between this year and last year in terms of how hard everyone is working,” Hynoski said. “There is not one slacker on this team, and everyone has the same common goal, to improve on last year.”
“We definitely have put (the off-field) things behind us,” Marks said. “We had a meeting of just the players, and our ultimate goal is to win a national championship. Some people have made mistakes and a lot of them have paid for them. Everybody is really focused on the season now.”
Both players have also acclimated themselves to their studies, even though it hasn’t been easy all the time.
“I’m not going to lie,” Marks said. “College is a lot different than high school. In high school, I didn’t have to do much studying. I do a lot more now. I have about a 2.46 (GPA) right now.”
Marks has yet to declare a major but is leading toward criminal justice. He’s thinking about becoming a state policeman.
Hynoski is carrying a 3.5 average as a business major.
“At first it was a hard adjustment,” Hynoski said. “During the season, it’s basically (morning) workouts to classes and then practice, so it’s an all-day thing. Luckily, I’m pretty good with time management.”