'He's good, but he runs too straight up.'

I wish I had 10 bucks for every time I heard that line about Henry Hynoski about five or six years ago.

Back then, Hyno was tearing up high school football fields around here for Southern Columbia, running for 7,165 yards and scoring 117 career touchdowns in leading the Tigers to four straight Class A state championships from 2003-06.

It was one of those lines people make up when what they really want to say is, "He won't make it at the next level."

Hyno, they said, was big and strong, but if he ran straight up like that against kids his own size, he'd get cut down to size.

First of all, if he'd have hit some of the kids he played against then any lower, he might have killed them with his 6-2, 240-pound frame.

Secondly, where did all these people get their credentials to critique the kids' running style? Did they spend hours and hours of time watching game film and the mechanics of successful running backs. I doubt it.

No, mostly they were well-meaning football fans, mostly from rival schools, who were looking for some chink in the kid's armor, some glimmer of hope for when their teams went up against he and his teammates.

They didn't necessarily want him to fail at the next level, but they wanted, in some part of their hearts, to be able to say later, 'I told you so.'

But what most of those people didn't understand, back then and even as recently as six months ago, was Hyno's desire to make it at the next level. That desire led him to go out for track his senior year because coaches at the University of Pittsburgh wanted him to work on his speed. He had played baseball, and well, for three years, and making the switch as a senior had to be hard, especially when he had trouble keeping up with the fastest track kids.

One area track coach caught his kids laughing at Hyno after beating him in a meet and told them, "You guys just don't get it, do you? He knows he can't beat you guys in a race, but you're going to be watching him play on TV some time soon. That's why he's running now."

In fact, Hyno knew even then that his football future was not in carrying the football, but in blocking for the guy who was.

That's what his career became at Pitt, and his coach there, former NFL coach Dave Wannstedt, prepared him well.

And even though he hit some unexpected snags, like being hurt at the NFL combine, and not being drafted, and enduring the NFL lockout after the draft, he also had some things working his way.

He had a father with NFL experience who guided him.

He had a mother with the organizational skills to enable him to make an educated choice of his own when the free agent calls started to come, as they soon did.

And he had his own preternatural desire.

"I wasn't going to let anything stop me," Hynoski told a writer from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before last week's NFC championship game. "When you want something bad enough... It (the setbacks) made me work out harder than ever. I'm talking abouty two or three times a day. When the time finally came for training camp, I was in great shape."

Hynoski said he stayed up till 3 in the morning during training camp to study plays. He quickly impressed his New York Giants teammates and coaches, quickly earned not only a spot on the roster, but a starting spot. He, like many of the Giants, had to endure a midseason injury, and has come back better than ever.

Now, watch the Giants on TV and you can see him, running straight up, at full speed, leading the way for Brandon Jacobs or Ahmad Bradshaw, and occasionally running straight up, after catching a pass from Eli Manning.

Running straight up ... to the Super Bowl.