PITTSBURGH - It wasn't the incoming coach at the University of Pittsburgh that led bruising fullback Henry Hynoski to make a move for the future.

It was just Hynoski's time to leave the den.

Hynoski, a Southern Columbia graduate and redshirt junior at Pitt, declared himself eligible for the NFL draft on Monday, well before the university made the announcement that Tulsa's Todd Graham, who will bring a spread-style offense, accepted the head coaching job with the Panthers.

"There were a lot of reasons I did it," Hynoski said by telephone on Tuesday. "I actually declared before the head coach was announced.

"It was a long process and after a lot of in-depth conversations with my parents and people who know about the draft, I decided it was what was best for me and my family. It's been my dream since I was a little boy to play in the NFL."

Already rated as one of the top fullbacks in the country, part of the reasoning behind Hynoski's decision was that no matter what else happened at Pitt next year, the likelihood was small that he would help his draft stock.

"Everyone I talked to said my stock wouldn't improve much," Hynoski said. "Fullbacks go in the mid-to-late rounds."

Hynoski estimates that up to one-third of NFL teams use a fullback with enough regularity that they would draft one.

"It's a need-specific position," Hynoski said. "A team won't draft a fullback if they don't use it. But teams that do, jump on a good fullback. There's just so much uncertainty."

The position is still important enough that it owns its own spot on the pro bowl roster, although at its core the position hasn't changed much.

The AFC's starting pro bowl fullback, the Houston Texans' Vonta Leach, has three career carries for three yards, meanwhile the NFC's starter, Atlanta's Ovie Mughelli, has 40 career carries.

Hynoski's career numbers at Pitt (37 carries for 144 yards, and 38 receptions for 264 yards) fall right into line with those, but it's his size, listed at 6-foot, 2-inches, 260 pounds, and athletic ability that teams will look at more closely and covet.

While seemingly everyone who sees Hynoski wants to know where he'd prefer to play, in truth, it really doesn't matter to him.

"It's all about having the right outlook," Hynoski said. "Everyone is asking me where I want to go, and I tell them that I'll go to whoever wants me. I'm just a guy working hard and trying to make it."

Hynoski won't know for the next week if he'll be invited to the NFL combine held in Indianapolis from Feb. 23 through March 1. In the meantime, he'll continue to go to class to earn the seven credits he needs for graduation while working out at a Pittsburgh-based gym on lowering his times in the vaunted 40-yard dash and pro shuttle drill.

"I started working out on Monday, and I'm more sore today than I was at any point in the season," Hynoski said.

The draft begins Thursday, April 28, with a prime-time first round, then continues with rounds 2 and 3 on Friday. Rounds 4 through 7 will be completed Saturday, April 30.