The way the tight ends were used last year--getting the most experienced players in the mix--may be Henry Hynoski's thing this year, as offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, Jr. tries to figure out who his best options are for getting the ball to. Hynoski, Jon Baldwin and Dion Lewis are Pitt's most experienced offensive weapons, regardless of position.
"One thing the coaches talked to me about, is stepping up my role in the pass game as a receiver;" Hynoski said. "Catch a pass in the flat, and running the ball in single-back sets."
Hynoski came to Pitt from Southern Columbia, after rushing for 7,165 yards, and helping lead his team to four state championships during his high school years. His role changed a little bit when he came to Pitt, as instead of trying to match the 7,000-plus yards he had on the ground, Hynoski was going to become a blocking fullback in Pitt's offense. He passed with flying colors in year one as a starter.
"We got a lot of players drawn up for Henry on the board," Wannstedt said, insisting that Pitt‘s main running plays have Hynoski involved as a blocker. "By that, I mean, when we distribute the ball, he probably doesn't get as much as what he's capable of. He's a better athlete than anyone would realize because of his size and the position he plays.
"You tend to say that a fullback is just a blocker. He can catch the ball. He's a better runner with the ball. We're going to need him. We need him to be more than a blocker to score points for us."
Hynoski still relishes that role as a blocking fullback, and he assures that role won‘t be given up. However, he feels he can still pull that off, while adding some carries, or adding receptions out of the backfield, or lined up as a third receiver. Running backs, when they do multiple duties, they're referred to as all-purpose backs. Hynoski is looking to do that, as a fullback.
"There's nothing like blowing up a linebacker," Hynoski said. "That's the best feeling ever. I'm a guy that could do multiple things--can run, block and catch. That's football. That's what a good fullback has to do. It's just something I'm looking forward to, when it all comes together."
Before Hynoski even tried this new role--trying to catch more passes and be more involved in, he first spent a lot of time working on it this summer, just getting down the basics.
"Once a week, I'd come down with Pat (Bostick), Andrew Janocko, and even Tino (Sunseri), and just run some routes," Hynoski said. "I'd just have them throw me routes, all possible combinations. Probably about 50 routes every time."
Hynoski has caught the ball in his career--both in high school and in college. Repetition of catching the ball is one thing. As he looks to catch on in this role, it's going to be a matter of making his routes smooth.
"Catching the ball is always something that came natural to me," Hynoski said. "It's the routes, when I'm lined up wide--the right footwork, which foot is up--my inside foot, or the outside foot, things like that."
"I'm very comfortable. It's something I've done my whole life. I did a lot of it last year. Hopefully, we'll just keep building off of that, and I'll get more routes on top of that. I could adjust to anything. A lot of the pass game things, just comes natural to me. I've been working on my hands and my routes all summer."