Hynoski accepts Giants' offer
Three months ago, Southern Columbia graduate and former all-state football player Henry Hynoski was bitterly disappointed when he was bypassed in the 2011 National Football League draft.
Then came the NFL lockout, and three months of uncertainty for Hynoski, who declared eligibility for the draft a year early after starting at fullback for two seasons at the University of Pittsburgh.
That uncertainty officially ended Tuesday, when Hynoski signed a free agent contract with the New York Giants.
Once the lockout ended Monday night, a mad scramble for free agents started, and Hynoski suddenly became as hot a property as there was.
Hynoski, reached by phone on the way to the Pittsburgh airport Tuesday afternoon for a flight to New York, said he started receiving calls from teams Monday afternoon.
"I was getting non-stop phone calls at my house for about four hours," he said. "It got pretty hectic. My parents were getting calls at their house. It got to be overwhelming."
Hynoski said he heard from about 15 teams.
"I talked to four or six (player) representatives, position coaches, some head coaches and even some owners," Hynoski said.
When the round of phone calls ended, Hynoski said the Giants seemed like the best fit for him.
"They want to get back to the ground game, and they needed a fullback, and they said it would be a nice opening for me," he said.
"They used their tight end (Bear Pascoe) at fullback last year because their fullback (Madison Hedgecock) was hurt, and they want to put him back to tight end," Hynoski said.
Hedgecock, a seven-year veteran out of North Carolina, has carried the ball just three times and caught 37 passes in his NFL career, and some who cover the Giants are suggesting that Hynoski's signing means Hedgecock's days with the team are numbered.
So, why didn't the Giants just draft Hynoski?
"Their running backs coach told me that they had other needs they wanted to take care of in the draft, and he also said they were shocked that nobody drafted me," Hynoski said. "He said I was their projected number one fullback pick the whole time. He said it had to be my hamstring (injury) that scared people off."
Hynoski pulled a hamstring muscle while doing the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He said the injury has completely healed.
"I'm as healthy as can be," he said.
The former Southern star, who helped the Tigers win four straight PIAA Class A state championships from 2003-06 and was named the Associated Press Class A Player of the Year as a senior, said his signing "brought some nice closure" to the disappointment of not being drafted.
Hynoski carried 37 times for 143 yards and caught 40 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown while at Pitt, and as a devastating blocker, helped the Panthers produce 1,000-yard rushers in each of the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Another Pitt player, safety Dom DiCicco, signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Bears. Hynoski and DiCicco join five Pitt teammates who were drafted in trying to land spots on NFL rosters.
The Giants will open preseason camp Friday at their permanent practice facility, the Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford, N.J., with the first practice session Saturday at 6;15 p.m. Daily sessions will be from 6-8 p.m. and are open to the public.
Another former Southern Columbia player, Dan Latorre, who later started at quarterback for four seasons with Bloomsburg University, reportedly was on the radar for a possible invitation to the Dallas Cowboys' preseason camp, but said Tuesday that nothing had happened.
"I had a CFL (Canadian Football League) tryout in February with the Toronto Argonauts, and they liked what I did but they already had five quarterbacks on their roster," Latorre said. "But one of their officials told my agent he was good friends with (Cowboys coach) Jason Garrett and he was going to refer me to him. But nothing's happened from my end so far."