Safety Hendy Back And Making Big Plays

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Among the many Terps players back from “the land of lost toys” (and performing well this spring) is senior safety A.J. Hendy, who joined a list the likes of receiver Levern Jacobs and, to a lesser degree, linebacker Abner Logan last season on the shelf for a variety of disciplinary reasons.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Among the many Terps players back from “the land of lost toys” (and performing well this spring) is senior safety A.J. Hendy, who joined a list the likes of receiver Levern Jacobs and, to a lesser degree, linebacker Abner Logan last season on the shelf for a variety of disciplinary reasons.

But Hendy has wasted no time making up, March 31 coming up with yet another near “pick-six” when he stepped in front of a Perry Hills’ pass and returned it some 40 yards, needing to get past just one last tackler down the sideline to hit pay dirt. He had one on Monday as well, off Shane Cockerille, which made it all the way to the end zone wrapped tightly in his arms.

“I was just reading his [Hills] eyes. He led me to the ball and let it go, and I just made a break on it,” Hendy said.

That is the kind of spring the wily, and often bellicose/pugnacious Hendy has had this spring, also turning in his fair share of fisticuffs as he perhaps works off a year of aggression sat toiling on scout team or watching from the sidelines.

“I think I have been doing a decent job, trying to really catch onto the schemes and techniques that we are doing, and play a little bit better every day,” Hendy said.

Hendy has had a spring full of picks, breakups, and tackles for loss running at strong safety opposite starter Anthony Nixon, and trying to keep senior Zach Dancel, who is close on his heels in a very tight battle, at bay. Senior Sean Davis made the move to corner this spring opposite returner Will Likely to fortify the rest of the Terps' defensive backline.

Hendy is also “chippy” as ever, mixing it up with some haymakers to the head last week with Hills, as the two started a near team-wide brawl one morning inside Byrd Stadium.

Said Randy Edsall of Hendy, who is known as a big hitter and now more of a ball-hawk in coverage, the one part of his game that maybe lacked before.

“A.J. is playing well, and I think he is playing with a lot of confidence. And the thing is he is doing the things he is asked to do, doing the things he is being coached to do. And that’s the thing that’s allowing him to play faster, he feels confident, he is getting his eyes in the right place. And that’s to me is always the biggest thing when you play safety,” Edsall said.

Edsall said Hendy is still working on his leverage points, but “when you go back and watch the film as closely as we do, the thing that I am very pleased with is the fact I can see his technique and his fundamentals getting so much better.”

Hendy has come a long way in the maturity department as well, ever since he signed with Maryland as a highly decorated safety/corner prospect out of Bowie High School, but at times a bit hot-headed.

“It has motivated me a lot, I feel like I have a lot to prove and I feel like every day I am out here it is a blessing because I missed the whole year last year. It was a lot of time, but I am back now,” Hendy said.

Hendy said he spent his time, like Jacobs, toiling on scout team “just trying to give 100 percent every day and make those guys better. All I did.”

Hendy and Dancel are locked in a battle and it is close, “and I feel like it is a good battle. But I am just going to try and go out there and prove myself every day,” Hendy said. Dancel also had a big pick this week, one he pitched to Sean Davis in a heady move as he was being tackled, Davis returning it another 20 yards or so.

Hendy said he has a better grasp of the new defense, with his reads and what not, while he has honed in on his footwork coming out of his breaks cleaner.

“Just to get better every day. Come out here and make less and less mistakes every day, get better, and try to be a leader,” Hendy said.

He said he likes how in the new scheme the linebackers play downhill more and “the coverages we play. We play a lot more two-deep on third down and stuff like that. I am playing nickel so I am coming down in the box a little more so I have a little run responsibility and I am playing on the slot receiver. So I got a lot more man to man coverage and things like that.”

Hendy, who is at 210 pounds now, said the physical Davis has begun to thrive at corner now. He likes the Terps new secondary coach, Darrell Perkins, while adding about when Edsall worked with him for the first 10 days as temporary secondary coach:

“Yeah, that was a unique experience having him there, but it was good, good to see things through his eyes and how he wants us to play,” Hendy said.

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