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Former FAU defensive end experienced a delayed reaction when representatives from the New Orleans Saints called to tell him he was about to get drafted.
He needed to hear his name on the draft telecast to finally be sure of what happened.
“It’s surreal. It really didn’t set in until you see your name on that board,” Hendrickson said. “The first five minutes I didn’t know what to think. I was like, Wow!”
Hendrickson became the first FAU defensive end ever selected in the NFL draft when Saints chose him with the 39th pick of the third round – 103rd overall.
That makes Hendrickson the third-highest FAU player ever selected in the draft, behind CB D’Joun Smith (Rd. 3, Pick 1 – overall 65, Indianapolis) in 2015 and TE Rob Housler (Rd. 3, Pick 5 – 69 overall, Arizona) in 2011.
“I can’t wait to get the pads back on,” Hendrickson said. “I’m getting the opportunity to play the game I love.”
A relentless pass rusher, Hendrickson left FAU as the Owls’ career sack leader with 29. He also set the program’s single-season record with 13 in 2015.
“I just love sacking quarterbacks,” Hendrickson said. “I’m trying to do that for as long as I can.”
As a team, New Orleans managed only 30 sacks in 2016. Only five NFL teams had fewer. Defensive end Cameron Jordan led the way with 7.5.
The Saints were one of about 10 teams that brought Hendrickson in for a pre-draft workout. Hendrickson said the Saints were impressed with his work ethic.
“They want to mold me into being the best Saint I can be,” Hendrickson said.
Conference USA named Hendrickson its Defensive Player of the Year following the 2016 season. He earned an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine as well as the East-West Shrine Game, where Hendrickson was selected as the Defensive Most Outstanding Player.
Hendrickson recorded 9.5 sacks as a senior, fighting double and triple teams on nearly every snap. FAU also used him as a blocker on short yardage and goal line plays.
A standout special teams player, Hendrickson tied for the lead nationally in blocked kicks with four.
“It’s all in my hands. I can be whatever I want to be and I want to be a hard-working football player,” Hendrickson said. “I’ve got to earn it. I’m ready to earn my spot and be a New Orleans Saint.”
The Saints call to Hendrickson, who is currently in the Orlando area with his family, came shortly after 11 p.m.
On Friday night wasn’t exactly planning to celebrate by making a short drive to Disney World.
“I’m going to bed. It’s 12 o’clock. I’m going to try to get some sleep,” Hendrickson said. “It’s for my parents to celebrate and it’s bringing me all the joy.”