Florida Atlantic senior co-captain Trey Hendrickson will play his final home game when the Owls (3-7, 2-4 Conference USA) play host to Old Dominion (7-3, 5-1) tonight at FAU Stadium.
For Hendrickson, it’s yet another milestone in a four-year career that has seen him develop from two-star recruit to potential NFL draft pick. Senior Day can be a highly emotional event and remaining calm and collected with friends and family in the stands can be a challenge, even for a player of Hendrickson’s stature.
“I don’t know how its going to be until I’m out there,” Hendrickson said. “I have no regrets and have not let anyone down. I’ve made my family proud and am excited for the future. My time here was well spent. I didn’t miss out on any experiences, and learned from the good and bad. I became a better man being here.”
Hendrickson has been invited to play in the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, a premier post-season event where 100 of the top draft-eligible players display their talents to NFL scouts.
And Hendrickson remains one of only 24 players still listed on the Ted Hendricks Watch List. The Hendricks Award (named after the former University of Miami star) is given annually to college football’s most outstanding defensive end.
The Apopka native is tied nationally with Oklahoma State’s Vincent Taylor and Texas Tech’s Anthony Taylor for most blocked kicks (3) and is 11th in individual sacks (9) and 20th in the tackles for a loss with 14 — the same number as Michigan’s Heisman-hyped Jabrill Peppers..
He is FAU’s all-time leader in tackles for a loss, yards from tackles for a loss, sacks, yards from QB sacks, forced fumbles and quarterback harries.
Through it all — the on-field success coupled with the ups and downs of three consecutive losing seasons — Hendrickson remains humble and positive as his FAU days wind down and a potential NFL future awaits.
“I am trying to improve in every aspect of my game, especially in pass rushing and run blocking,” he said.
From offering encouragement to teammates on and off the field to demonstrating a selfless, leadership “team-first” attitude, Hendrickson will be missed, his coaches say. Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni has had a front-row seat watching one of FAU’s greatest players mature as a football player and a man.
“He’s so much better than he was a year ago,” Bellantoni said. “If you watch two years ago, his film, he’s not even the same player. He always works so hard and never takes a play off in practice.”
Coach Charlie Partridge came aboard after Hendrickson’s initial season and has witnessed his growth into one of the nation’s defensive standouts.
“When I first got here, I don’t know that I saw this coming,” said Partridge, whose team enters today’s game on a two-game winning streak. “I saw a kid that worked hard and had raw talent but he has put himself in this position.”
Hendrickson has improved himself off the field, too, over the past four years. Dietary changes have helped him to play at a higher level as pizza and excess carbs has taken a back seat to salads and lean protein. And he drinks his vegetables thanks to investing in a NutriBullet liquefier.
“It’s not my style to sit there and eat a bunch of leaves,” joked Hendrickson.
Regarding the NFLPA Bowl invite, he said: “To keep playing football after the season is a great honor.”
Hendrickson is looking ahead, but not too far up the road. There’s a game to be played today for the Owls and one more after that.
“I have two more weeks,” he said. “I am just an FAU athlete for now and that’s all I am. It’s about one play at a time and enjoying my time here.”