The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 45 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.
Today's number is 45, so we're looking at Pitt's most recent Super Bowl winner.
No matter what he became, a shortened version of Henry Hynoski's last name was always going to make for a catchy rhyme.
Fortunately for him, he grew into a fullback, so "Hyno the Rhino" fits just right.
The epitome of a traditional fullback, with a throwback mentality and the physical style to match it, Hynoski was a fan favorite during his Pitt career. His time as a Panther began after a distinguished high school career that saw him run his way into the top ten of Pennsylvania's all-time rushing list with a walloping 7,165 yards and 113 touchdowns.
Hynoski was named the Associated Press Pennsylvania Class A Player of the Year after his senior season when he rushed for 2,407 yards and 42 touchdowns on just 206 carries (averaging 11.7 yards per carry). He only lost three games in four years at Southern Columbia, and when he graduated he held four PIAA Class A championship rings.
At Pitt, Hynoski's impact wasn't necessarily felt in yardage. In three active seasons, he rushed for a total of 143 yards and one touchdown on 37 carries, and he caught 40 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. Instead, Hynoski did his work in the decidedly un-glamorous role of a traditional pro-style fullback: grinding, taking on linebackers and working to open holes for some very productive tailbacks.
While Hynoski never earned All-Big East football honors for his under-the-radar contributions, he was a three-time Big East All-Academic Football Team honoree. He cut his college career short after Dave Wannstedt was fired in December 2010 and opted to leave for the NFL.
Hynoski injured his hamstring during the NFL Scouting Combine and was not selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, but that might have been better, since he was able to choose a team from several rookie free agent offers. Hynoski settled on the New York Giants, where the offense still used a fullback, and that decision appears to have been the right one. In two seasons with the Giants, Hynoski - who wears No. 45 and now appears to prefer the nickname "Hynocerous" - has been the team's starting fullback.
As was the case at Pitt, Hynoski doesn't touch the ball much with the Giants. In two seasons he has carried the ball five times for 20 yards and has caught 23 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. But he caught two passes and recovered a crucial fumble in Super Bowl XLVI and walked away with a championship ring.
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