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There was no sophomore slump for New York Giants fullback Henry Hynoski, coming off a whirlwind first season that saw him become the only rookie to earn a starting role on offense and ended with him hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl XLVI Champion.
No, Hynoski went right to work within a few short weeks after the last piece of tickertape from the Canyon of Heroes parade down New York City’s famed Broadway honoring the World Champions was swept up, his goal to reinvent himself into a leaner, meaner and more effective contributor in 2012.
Hynoski’s goals, all of which he met, thanks to his dogged determination, included significantly improving his strength, his knowledge of his assignments, and his overall familiarity of the Giants playbook. He parlayed his long hours of training and studying into a sophomore campaign that saw him vastly increase not only his on-field contributions, but also his off-field leadership.
On the field, Hynoski helped teammate Ahmad Bradshaw rush for 1,015 yards, Bradshaw being the first Giants running back to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark behind the Elysburg, Penn. native’s lead. In addition, Hynoski’s efforts helped third-year running back Andre Brown enjoy a breakout season that included 73 carries for 385 years and a team-leading 8 rushing touchdowns.
Hynoski’s blocking also helped rookie first-round draft pick David Wilson achieve an amazing breakout performance on offense against New Orleans. In that game, Wilson finished with 13 carries for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, in addition to 227 kickoff return yards – including a 97-yard return for a touchdown – all of which were partially made possible by Hynoski, who was part of the the two-main “wedge” on kickoff returns.
Besides clearing the way for his running backs against some of the NFL’s top linebackers – such as NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis of the 49ers, London Fletcher of the Redskins, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer of the Cowboys and A.J. Hawk of the Packers – Hynoski was much more than just a lead blocker who helped spring his running backs for 15 of the team’s 18 rushing touchdowns.
Once a prolific running back in high school, Hynoski was called upon to run the ball five times for the Giants in 2012. In those carries, he amassed 20 yards, affording Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride another option to use in the team’s first-and-second down packages.
It was in the passing game in which Hynoski made his biggest contribution. He was thrown to 15 times, catching 11 of those passes for 50 yards. Two of those receptions went for first downs, and one other, which came in the Giants’ 2012 regular season finale against the Eagles on December 30, Hynoski’s 24th birthday, resulted his first NFL Career touchdown.
Following his milestone score, the final points in an emotionally charged 42-7 Giants victory, the man bearing the moniker “Hynocerous” went on to further endear himself to thousands of Giants fans with his now wildly popular “Hynocerous” touchdown celebration.
Off the field, Hynoski was quick to answer head coach Tom Coughlin’s challenge to his players to take ownership of their role within the team’s Structure.
When injuries began to affect the Giants running backs-Brown was lost in Week 12 after suffering a broken leg, while Bradshaw struggled through knee and foot injuries-Hynoski took it upon himself to mentor Wilson in learning the team’s pass-blocking concepts.
Hynoski regularly spent hours every week quizzing Wilson, as well as veteran teammates Kregg Lumpkin and Ryan Torain, both of whom were signed to provide depth, in order to help them get up to speed on the offense’s terminology and pass-blocking schemes.
Hynoski did more than just contribute in the locker room; he was the only member of the Giants voted to the 2012 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team. The team, chosen by a prestigious panel of five longtime football industry experts, recognizes NFL players for their textbook-style technique in setting an example for youth football players to emulate.
In February 2011, Hynoski, out of the University of Pittsburgh, was rated as one of the top college fullback prospects by multiple draft scout publications. He took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s annual scouting combines, to display his diverse athletic talents. However, while running his first 40-yard dash, Hynoski felt a pop in his hamstring, ending his chance to impress NFL scouts, head coaches, and general managers.
Not only did his hamstring injury cut short his combine performance, it also threatened to end Hynoski’s dream of following in the footsteps of his father—Henry, Sr., a former NFL fullback taken in the sixth round of the 1975 draft by the Cleveland Browns—as he was unable to conduct his pro day.
Undeterred, the 23-year-old from Elysburg, Penn. reached deep within to find inner strength that ultimately became a hallmark of his one-on-one physical battles with NFL linebackers and defensive linemen.
Through hard work and determination, Hynoski aggressively rehabbed his hamstring, hopeful that his past body of work would get his name called during the 2011 Draft. However, at the conclusion of the NFL Draft on April 30, 2011, Hynoski’s dream of being drafted by an NFL team went unfulfilled.
Hoping to get his chance as a free agent with an NFL team, Hynoski would ultimately have to wait three months before having a chance to negotiate with a club, this due to the lockout resulting from a labor dispute between the owners and the NFLPA. Faced with an uncertain future, Hynoski continued to train diligently, keeping himself in optimal shape and remaining optimistic that once the labor dispute ended, his phone would ring with an NFL suitor on the other line.
On July 28, 2011, Hynoski’s wish was fulfilled, as following the end of the NFL lockout, teams were free to court undrafted free agents. Receiving nonstop calls from close to 15 NFL teams in a span of 12 hours, Hynoski chose to sign with the New York Giants after having determined that they offered the best chance for him to contribute on offense in his rookie season.
Entering camp, Hynoski was the only true fullback on the Giants’ roster. He quickly gained the trust and respect of teammates and coaches, not just on offense, but also on special teams. By his second pre-season game, he saw his practice reps increase and appeared to be on his way toward earning a starting job.
By Week 3 of the NFL pre-season, Hynoski moved ahead of Bear Pascoe on the depth chart at fullback, becoming the first of his rookie teammates to emerge as a starter. By opening day, Hynoski was one of 10 rookies to make the Giants’ 53-man roster, and the only rookie to get on the field for the offense in a starting role.
In Week 5 against Seattle, Hynoski suffered a stinger injury that would ultimately keep him out of action for five games. Determined to get back on the field, Hynoski kept his football knowledge sharp and continued to work within the parameters established by the Giants’ medical staff. After a five-game absence, Hynoski worked his way back onto the field as the starting fullback—a spot he wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the Giants’ 2011 run.
Once returning to the starting lineup, Hynoski’s production took off. His stellar lead blocking resulted in eight 100-yard rushing performances by the Giants’ running game, including key late-season games against the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys that helped the Giants secure the NFC East Division title; the Giants’ Wild Card dominance over the Atlanta Falcons; and their impressive showing in Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots.
Hynoski also showed himself to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield, catching 17 of 18 passes (94.4%) for 122 yards (7.17 yards per catch), and amassing 114 yards after the catch (YAC). His season high in this category was 4 receptions for 31 yards, including three on one second-quarter drive in Week 17 against Dallas (1/1/12), a game that sent the Giants to the post-season tournament for the first time in two years.
SUPER BOWL XLVI
On February 5, 2012, nearly one year to the day when his NFL dreams appeared to be shattered on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Hynoski and his teammates posted a 21-17 win over the AFC Champion New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. In addition to having 2 receptions for 19 yards and providing solid lead blocking that led to the running game posting 114 yards on 28 carries (4.1 yards per carry), Hynoski also alertly recovered a fumble to keep a Giants’ scoring drive alive.
As Hynoski hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy on the very same field where his NFL dreams had nearly ended 12 months prior, his young career had come full circle, with unlimited promise waiting in seasons to come.
Prior to converting to fullback in college on the advice of former Pittsburgh Head Coach Dave Wannstedt, Hynoski was a prolific running back at Southern Columbia High School (Catawissa, Penn.). There, he finished his four-year career with 7,165 yards and 113 touchdowns, leading the Tigers to four consecutive Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class “A” state championships (2003-2006).
His career production placed him sixth at that time on the all-time Pennsylvania high-school rushing list, and earned him Associated Press Class A Player of the Year honors in his senior season (2006) after rushing for 2,407 yards and 42 touchdowns on 206 carries, an average of 11.7 yards per attempt (despite not playing in full games).
In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Hynoski, who lettered in baseball, basketball, and track, was a Distinguished Honor Student who was also named to the National Honor Society and National Honor Society for High School Scholars.
An avid outdoorsman, Hynoski, who was born on 12/30/88, enjoys fishing, golfing, and camping. A cum laude graduate from the University of Pittsburgh, Hynoski holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Marketing Concentration, and aspires to explore a career in broadcasting after concluding a long and productive NFL playing career.