As ’s football team headed to the locker room at the end of the first half of its season-opening game against Laurel last September, senior wide receiver/defensive back couldn’t help but be somewhat disappointed with his team’s performance to that point.
Hendy’s Bulldogs went into the locker room leading, 14-0, but mistakes and missed opportunities had prevented them from opening up an even bigger lead heading into the second half.
So, rather than let Laurel continue to hang around, Hendy decided to take matters into his own hands. During the course of the first 20 minutes of the second half, Hendy caught a 5-yard touchdown, returned a punt 70 yards for another score and also had a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown. Fueled by Hendy’s three scores, the Bulldogs’ only three of the second half, Bowie eventually pulled away from Laurel for a 34-6 victory.
“A.J. was really relied on a lot to lead the team, both offensively and defensively,” said Terry Hayes, who is set to replace Lionel Macklin as the Bulldogs’ varsity head coach in 2011 after guiding their junior varsity team for six seasons.
Plays like that from Hendy not only propelled Bowie to wins in three of its first four games, although it did drop five of its final six, but also caught the attention of college recruiters.
The 6-foot-1, 200 pound Hendy—recruited primarily as a defensive back—received scholarship offers from numerous top NCAA Division I FBS schools around the country, including Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina State, Ohio State and Penn State, among others, before making the decision to sign with his hometown Terrapins.
Hendy, a team captain during his senior season with the Bulldogs, finished his senior year with 592 yards and seven touchdowns as a wide receiver, 30 tackles and five interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, as a cornerback as well as three returns for scores as the Bulldogs’ primary punt returner.
He posted seven touchdown catches offensively, and four interceptions defensively as a junior. He was also a two-time state high jump champion at Bowie.
Now, Hendy hopes for continued success at Maryland, set to begin preseason practice next week. The Terrapins open their season against Miami Sept. 5.
“I’m just ready to go,” Hendy said. “I want to prove that I’m ready to play early and be able to contribute to a winning team.”
Hendy, who moved into school June 19, has spent most of the summer working out with the Terrapins’ other incoming freshman, who also moved in during June. The group spends four days each week lifting weights under the guidance of Maryland’s strength and conditioning coach, Andrew Wilson, and also spends 2-3 days per week running and working to improve their speed.
“He’s a very talented player and very athletic,” Hayes said. “He also great size and speed, and just has a great knowledge and understanding of the game, but he’s also a very hard worker. He’s definitely a great asset for Maryland. I’m looking for big things from him.”
And, although he just hopes to earn playing time as a freshman, Hendy, who will play cornerback for the Terrapins, has lofty goals for his college career, saying, “I want to be an All-American and an All-ACC player on an ACC championship team. I hope for all of that. I just want to be successful in the time that I’m there.”