Undrafted, Hyno looks to future
ELYSBURG - After a frustrating day of waiting on Saturday, Henry Hynoski now has to wait some more.
The former Southern Columbia all-stater, who had hoped to be selected in this year's NFL draft after a solid career as a fullback at the University of Pittsburgh, was not taken in the seven rounds of the draft, which was completed yesterday.
Hynoski must now play a waiting game before he can sign a free agent contract. Usually, teams contact and sign several non-drafted players in the first few days after the draft in order to hold mini-camps in mid-May. But this year, because of the lockout, teams are not allowed to have any access to undrafted players for the time being. That could change in the next day or two, or it could be in effect for several weeks or even months.
"I'm not feeling too good right now," Hynoski said Saturday night. "I'm kind of in shock. This was really unexpected from all angles."
Based on conversations he had with representatives from several teams and with his agent, Drew Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Hynoski had said he was expect-
ing to be drafted in one of the later rounds. That that didn't happen was one surprise, but Hynoski said another was that most of the other names of potential fullback picks that he had heard, also went undrafted.
There were six fullbacks picked, but Hynoski was familiar with only one of them.
"The great majority were surprises to me," he said. "One I knew for sure but the other ones I hadn't heard mentioned much."
Hynoski's father, Henry Sr., who was drafted by and played for the Cleveland Browns in the 1970s, said, "We were a little disappointed that some of the teams that told him they were looking for a fullback, bypassed him."
Hynoski has already had talks with several teams about possibly signing as a free agent, but those talks are on hold because of the lockout ruling.
"It's just going to be a waiting game with the lockout," he said. "I'm guessing it will probably be another week or two."
Hynoski's mother, Kathy, said earlier this week Hynoski had been contacted by 23 of the NFL's 32 teams prior to the draft, with approximately a half-dozen teams showing strong interest. But because the position of fullback has become known as a "niche' position in the league, with some teams not even carrying fullbacks, the possibility was always there that he might not be drafted.
That can be advantageous, since Hynoski is now able to negotiate a free agent contract with any team. He said Some of his former Pitt teammates now in the NFL who went that route have told him that's not the worst thing that could happen.
"Some of my old teammates said it's better that they went undrafted instead of going in the sixth or seventh round because it freed them up to look around instead of holding them to one team," he said.
Still, every kid who plays football likely at one time or another harbors dreams of being drafted, and Saturday was very tough on the former Southern star, who led the Tigers to four straight PIAA Class A state championships, then started the past two seasons at Pitt.
"It was one of the most anxious experiences I've ever had," said Hynoski, who watched the draft at home in Elysburg with his parents and some of his Pitt teammates who came home with him for the weekend. "I was pacing the whole day. I actually went down to the pond (on the family property) and fished a little bit, and then I went up and started hitting some golf balls. It was very tough to wait through."
Hynoski pulled a muscle while doing the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, and while he didn't lay the blame for not being drafted directly on that, he said he thought it was a factor.
"I know it did (have some bearing)," he said. "It was just one of those things, though. What bothered me about it was that I really couldn't go out and show them (scouts) my skill set. But you just have to keep an upbeat attitude."
Three more of Hynoski's Pitt teammates were drafted Saturday, joining two others who went in the first two rounds.
The Philadelphia Eagles picked running back Dion Lewis and the Cleveland Browns picked offensive lineman Jason Pinkston in the fifth round, and defensive end Greg Romeus was picked by the New Orleans Saints in the seventh. Earlier, wide receiver Jon Baldwin was picked in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs, and defensive end Jabaal Sheard was picked by the Browns in the second round.
"Absolutely, it was great to see them get picked," Hynoski said. "It's always good to see Pitt teammates do well."