One month ago, A.J. Hendy was digesting some devastating news. Battling all summer with teammate Sean Davis for the open starting safety spot, Hendy learned he had lost. The job went to Davis, and Hendy to the second string.
Coach Randy Edsall insisted Hendy consider himself a starter, encouraging the junior to keep confident that his time would arrive. Against West Virginia this weekend in Baltimore, that moment came.
Within a three-play span Hendy recovered a fumble, then intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. He later nabbed another fumble recovery, falling over backwards as the loose ball tumbled into his mitts. For his career day, Hendy was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week, the first Maryland player to win the award.
Over the past three seasons, the Terrapins have returned three interceptions for touchdowns. Two have come thanks to Hendy, a lifelong Maryland resident who grew up a Washington Redskins fan but did his most damage inside the Baltimore Ravens’ home stadium.
“I feel like it’s my time,” he said later. “I’m a junior, I’m healthy, I’m ready to go. I feel like the DBs we have, the defense we have, everyone’s going to make plays.”
Thrust into a nickel role after cornerback Dexter McDougle underwent season-ending surgery on Monday, Hendy and the Terps kept West Virginia’s “air raid” offense below 200 total yards and recorded their first shutout since 2008. Hendy’s three turnover recoveries accounted for half of the Mountaineers’ giveaways in Maryland’s rain-soaked 37-0 dismantling.