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Know Your Giants: FB Henry Hynoski


READ OFFSEASON CHAT WITH HENRY HYNOSKI]( Where in Pennsylvania did you grow up?**

Hynoski: "The name of the town is Elysburg. It's about an hour and 15 minutes east of State College. It's a small town, 2,000 people, a very country area. My high school football stadium was in the middle of a cornfield. That was just a blue collar, down home area with good people. I'm proud to have been a part of it. I was the main running back for my high school team, ran for a bunch of yards, a bunch of touchdowns and won a state championship."

Q: What did your parents do when you were young?

Hynoski: My dad (Henry) played pro football (for the 1975 Cleveland Browns). He played high school at Mount Carmel, which is about 10 or 15 minutes away. He met my mom, they moved to Elysburg and that's how I ended up going to Southern (Columbia High School). Southern and Mount Carmel are very big rival schools. My dad went on to play college ball at Temple and went to the NFL and played for the Browns in the mid-70s. I always looked up to him, hearing the stories of him, how great a player he was. Ever since I knew what football was I wanted to be like my dad. So I wanted to be a pro football player. That was my goal from day one. My mom (Kathy), she's a nurse anesthetist."

Q: What did your dad do after football?

Hynoski: "He was always in business. Now he does quality control in Pennsylvania for Weiss supermarkets."

Q: He just played the one year with the Browns?

Hynoski: "Yes, he got injured, had some shoulder issues and had to call it quits. I had a real good upbringing. My mom and dad, I can't say enough about the way I was raised by them and the life that they provided for my sister and I. I'm very grateful for that."

Q: Is your sister younger or older?

Hynoski: "Older sister. Mary Frances. She kind of set the precedent. She's six years older than me. She's a much better natural athlete than I ever would be. I just worked hard at it. She was a tremendous soccer player, tremendous basketball player. Took a basketball scholarship to Lehigh University and got her business degree from Lehigh. Now she's married, two kids. We're a very close-knit family. My mom, I always tease my mom. She's the rock of the family. She keeps us all strong and all together."

Q: Were sports a big part of your life when you were growing up?

Hynoski: "They were. We lived in very sports-driven area. For football games on Friday night, everything shuts down and everybody goes to the football games. My dad was a hero in my area. We always grew up hearing the stories about how great my dad was, how great an athlete he was and how great of a person he was and the way he conducted himself off the field. I always tried to model myself after my dad in that fashion."

Q: Was he a well-known high school athlete in your area?

Hynoski: "Yes. Still to this day he's a hero there to everybody. It's just the way people respect him. I still hear stories. We go out to dinner in Mount Carmel and still hear stories today about this play that he had, what, over 40 years ago. It's pretty neat just the respect that he still has. It's unbelievable."

Q: Did you play anything other than football?

Hynoski: "I played baseball, dabbled in basketball. We always went to the state championship every year in football and we won every year, so I got a late start with basketball. We missed about six weeks of basketball season. We couldn't start basketball, we were in football. It was always something, I had to nurse an ankle or an arm or something. I had to take time off, so basketball never took off for me. I was actually really good at baseball."

Q: What position did you play?

Hynoski: "Left field. I was a power hitter who hit quite a few home runs. I probably could have done something with my baseball career, too. I remember a few scouts were actually at games watching me play in high school. I only played my sophomore and junior seasons, though, because I was just so gung-ho about football. I was being moved up to varsity football as a freshman, so my freshman year I ran track to get in shape for football. Then my sophomore and junior year I played baseball and my senior year I had already committed to Pitt for football, so I just ran track my senior year. Not that I was a great track runner. I just did it to stay in shape and basically train in the spring."

Q: At Southern Columbia, you rushed for 7,165 yards and 113 touchdowns. You were obviously a great high school player. How do you look back on that time?

Hynoski: "It was a lot of fun. I have a lot of memories playing football with my best friends, winning state championships, undefeated seasons. It was really a storybook career. I had fun being the guy that could single-handedly take over a game. I got to college I learned pretty quickly that's not the case, because I'm getting moved to fullback. I knew I was going to college to play fullback. Other schools recruited me and they said, 'Oh, we'll let you play running back.' I knew that wasn't the case and it was going to be fullback and that's what appealed to me most about Pittsburgh. Their bottom line was, 'Hey, you're going to be a fullback, but we'll let you touch the ball every now and again.' So I respected that. They knew my ultimate goal was to get to the NFL and they told me that's the best route for me to do it, being a fullback."

Q: How many games did you lose in your four years of varsity football?

Hynoski: "Three. We won a state title every year."

Q: With your statistics and the team's record, was football easy for you in high school?

Hynoski: "I wouldn't say it was easy. I worked at it. The results that I got were through hard work. It's not that I went out there and was that much of a gifted athlete. I had been training and lifting weights since I was 12 years old, running, training. I just knew that's what I wanted to do and that was my goal. Ever since I knew what a football was I made it my goal to take my career as long as I could."

Q: Did you also play defense in high school?

Hynoski: "I did. I played linebacker. Sparingly, short yardage, goal line, if there was a good running back I would have to man cover him out of the backfield. Coach didn't really like to start players two ways, but I played my fair share of defense. Originally, I was brought up to varsity to play linebacker. Then all of a sudden they threw me at running back my first scrimmage and I had six carries for 180 yards. 'OK, now you're the starting running back.' That was the way it was originally planned."

Q: Did you consider any colleges other than Pitt?

Hynoski: "My final schools were Pitt, Iowa and Rutgers just by the way those teams use the fullback. Rutgers was appealing to me because they had (fullback) Brian Leonard at the time. Everybody around here knows who he was, so I they wanted to bring me in to follow in his footsteps. But ultimately it was Pittsburgh that stole my heart. The coaching staff and everything, it's really where I felt at home."

Q: Who was the head coach then?

Hynoski: "Dave Wannstedt."

Q: You had 37 carries in your entire Pitt career, which might have been your workload in one high school game. You were redshirted your first year. Did you know that was going to happen?

Hynoski: "Not really. It was kind of up in the air. The fullback they had was a junior at the time. He was a pretty good fullback, so I redshirted. In my second year I dabbled in. I did some special teams and got in at fullback occasionally, played a little bit and by the time my third year came around, my redshirt sophomore year, I just wanted to play consistently, I didn't care how I had to do it. Getting the ball wasn't a huge deal to me. I was just out there to help the team out in any way I can. That was primarily being a lead blocker. It turns out that's what I really, really love doing. That's my passion. I don't think there's a better feeling in the world than laying a bone-crunching block and springing a running back for a big run or pass protecting for the quarterback and he makes a big throw downfield. I feel like, even to this day, that's me making that run or making that catch. That's the way I approach it and that's what I love to do. Now I really have appreciation of what the linemen did for me as a running back in high school."

Q: So it's easy for you to step out of the high school spotlight and become more of a role player?

Hynoski: "The first couple of years not playing certainly weren't easy. But by the time it was my turn to play and I was up I didn't care how I had to do it. I just wanted to play. If I had to run 100 isos a game I would."

Q: Why did you leave school with a year of eligibility remaining?

Check out photos of FB Henry Hynoski from the 2014 season

Hynoski: "I was already graduated (with a degree in business/ marketing). Our coaching staff got fired, brought in a guy that ran the spread, so there wasn't much use for the fullback. I probably would have made a position change to tight end or linebacker. I did my homework, though. I filed all the paperwork to see where I would be drafted and I was a middle-round draft prospect. Obviously, it didn't work out that way, but at the time I was rated one of the top fullbacks in the country, so it was really a no-brainer. Would I have left early if the coaching staff didn't get fired? No, I wouldn't have left early. But I'm certainly glad I did, because I won a Super Bowl the next year. It turned out to be the best decision of my life. Being in New York, I wouldn't go back and change anything for the world."

Q: Were you disappointed you weren't drafted?

Hynoski: "I was. All the hard work, I felt like my dreams were kind of falling apart right in front of me. It was really tough, not to mention the lockout was that year, so I couldn't sign right after the draft. I had to wait until the lockout ended to sign. Once the lockout ended I had calls from about 15 to 18 different teams that wanted me to come in and play fullback. The whole time my mom and dad and I were doing homework. My mom, she had all this information in booklets printed out on potential teams and the whole time she was saying, 'You know what, I hope the New York Giants call you. That would be a perfect fit for you.' My dad and I were like, 'That would be such an amazing fit. It would be great, close to home.' Who's the first team that calls? The Giants. I weighed a couple options that day, but really the whole time I was going to go to New York. I took other calls just to pay respect to the other teams, but I was pretty well set at that point. After talking with Coach (Tom) Coughlin it was solidified. He had me sold, because of the blue-collar approach. I think we really enjoyed talking to each other. I think he appreciated the kind of player that I was and I appreciated that coach that he was. At the combine and pro day I got to know (then running backs) coach (Jerald) Ingram real well, so we developed a good relationship, too."

Q: You sat out five games of your rookie season with a burner – was that the first time you ever missed time with an injury?

Hynoski: "I missed the state championship game my freshman year. My knee locked up in the eastern championship, so I had to get some cartilage removed so I missed the state championship my freshman year. That was tough, but other than that I didn't miss any games. That was a tough time too because you're a rookie, you're trying to make a statement, trying to make a name for yourself. My right arm was like a dead arm. I really couldn't move it for a few weeks so there was no way I could have played. It was numb to the touch; it was really weird the type of injury it was. I came back and was able to play. Then carried on and then we won the Super Bowl."

Q: What else stands out about your rookie season?

Hynoski: "Everything happened so fast. The lockout ends, I get the call, I'm heading to New York the next day, in training camp. Bear (Pascoe), who was the fullback that time, there was something with his contract and he had to sit out for a week. So they said, 'Okay, you're the starting fullback. Learn the playbook.' Charles Way gave me one piece of advice I'll never forget. He said, 'Don't run into Eli (Manning).' I said, 'Alright.' Bear came back and then I went back down to second string. The second preseason game I had a good game against the Bears then they tell me I'm starting the third preseason game, starting the fourth preseason game. I make the team, start doing well, a couple losses here and there. The next thing you know we're in the playoffs, we keep advancing. Here's the Super Bowl and it all just happened so fast. It's like a whirlwind. I thought that was the way it was supposed to go. You come in, win a Super Bowl, storybook. These last three years really put things into perspective. My second year not making the playoffs, that really put things in perspective. My goal is I want to have that feeling back again. When the ball dropped when we won the Super Bowl, I can't even use words to describe it, because there's not a feeling that could describe it. It was just unbelievable. I want that feeling back."

Q: In 2012, you played every game and scored your first NFL touchdown in the final game on a pass from Manning. What did that mean to you?

Hynoski: "It was kind of cool, just a reward for all the hard work and the blocking and stuff. It was really meaningful the way my teammates and coaches and the fans, they were all just so happy for me. I think everyone was happier for me than myself. For me, my job is to lead block and make other guys score. I just think the fans, the coaches, the players, everybody appreciated the work that I was putting in, so they were glad to see me rewarded in that fashion."

Q: You're one of the most engaging guys on the team. You're always willing to chat. Do you change personalities when you get on the field?

Hynoski: "You have to. My dad gave me a piece of advice when I first started playing football. He said, 'On the field, you're an animal, but off the field conduct yourself as a gentleman.' That's the one piece of advice that I always try to take with me everywhere I go. That's the way everyone describes my dad, how humble he was and all the success he had. That's the way my dad was and that's the way my mom is, too. They're two very modest people. Just the way I was raised and the way I grew up, I couldn't thank him enough for the way they raised me."

Q: Do your parents attend most Giants games?

Hynoski: "They don't miss. They fly all over the country. They really love it, really enjoy it. My mom, typical mom, she gets nervous at the games. My dad says his arms are black and blue after the games, my mom is grabbing on to him."

Q: And you're engaged?

Hynoski: "I am. Her name is Laura. We met up here a couple years ago. She's been a tremendous asset to me and the family, very, very supportive in everything I do and achieving all my dreams with football. It helps when you have a woman that not only you love but your family loves, too. It's been unbelievable having her around. She's going to be a great addition to our family. Everyone is real excited. No one is more excited than me though. I found the girl of my dreams."

Q: Do you have a wedding date?

Hynoski: "Not yet. We're going to fine-tune that once we have a little more time after the season. Right now we're targeting late spring, early summer of 2016. "Ideally, I'd love to do it this spring. But I was looking at all the stuff, we were talking about all the stuff that goes into this and I didn't realize how much goes into a wedding. I was like, 'Yeah, there's no way. We're going to have to give it about a year and a half.'"

Q: How do you like living in this area?

Hynoski: "I love it. I went from my small town to Pittsburgh, blue-collar people there and I thought coming to New York it was going to be all about the flash and the glam. But there this is a blue-collar area now. Don't let anybody fool you. I really appreciate that work ethic, the passion that the fans have around here. It's really special. There's not better dining in the world. I'll never have a problem keeping my weight up while playing here."

Q: You have so many nicknames, the Hynocerous,..

Hynoski: "Hynocerous, Hank the Tank, Hyno the Rhino, the Polish Hammer. Hynocerous kind of really took off out here."

Q: Is that your favorite?

Hynoski: "Yeah, I won a Super Bowl with that nickname. That's definitely favorite. That's the one that kind of stuck most consistently."

Q: Do you see yourself hopefully having a long career here?

Hynoski: "I really love it here, from the owners, the coaches, the management, everybody. I just feel really comfortable here. The fans, the area, my teammates, everybody that works for this whole organization, it's just good people from top to bottom. I'm just glad and honored to be a part of it. It's hard to imagine myself wearing any other color than Big Blue. Hopefully things work out on that end. That would be a dream come true to start and finish my career with the team I love."

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