Kolin Hendricks isn’t shy about getting a hit, but that hasn’t always been the case for the Central Crossing linebacker.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior found his passion for football in high school and still hasn’t stopped making plays. Through three games, he led the team with 40 tackles, more than double the 19 stops recorded by linebacker Nash Barrett and defensive lineman Kyle Kruskamp.
“Honestly, I was scared to hit when I was young,” Hendricks said. “I started in high school as a seventh grader and I wasn’t that big. The fear started to evaporate as I got older in the eighth grade and I got out of it. I started going out and having fun and beating up people. I like the contact.
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Hendricks had a team-leading 91 tackles as a junior, with five for losses, and coach Trevor White said he is the Comets’ unquestioned leader.
“Kolin is our alpha on the team, and when he talks, people listen,” said White, whose team was 2-1 before playing Grove City on Sept. 9. “He can put the weight of the team on his back and he’s our emotional leader on defense. We tell our youngest children that if you want to do well, look at Kolin. That goes for practice, games, the weight room, school, you name it.”
Hendricks had to mature quickly as a leader last fall. As the starting middle linebacker, he took on the responsibility of calling the shots defensively when 2022 graduate Max Webb suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3.
“Max got hurt, so I had to step up,” Hendricks said. “As a middle linebacker, we have to read a lot of things. I have to call our defense, so I literally have to see everything that’s going on. I have to see where everyone is lined up, call things and notice things. A lot of that is reading those cues and being able to make your team conform to them.
“I think (calling up defenses last fall) pushed me to be the best that I could be and be the leader that our team needs. There are times when guys are scared to step up, but if they have someone who pushes them to be better, it helps the whole team rise up.”
For the second straight season, Hendricks is also the team’s punter, averaging 34.2 yards on 13 attempts in three games. He said being a linebacker helps when he’s trying to get the ball out under pressure.
“It helps me, because I can see who is in a hurry,” he said. “You can tell if someone is nervous or if he is too heavy with his front foot because he wants to get the ball away as fast as possible. You can pick up the little things. As a linebacker, if you see that the guard is very heavy on his hand, you know if he is blocking the run.”
White said Hendricks isn’t afraid to try new things to help the team.
“Whatever job you give him, he’ll do it,” White said. “We were looking for some depth on punts and he stepped up for us. He is a jack of all trades, even at the jv level. He is also our emergency quarterback. I would love to have him in every cover unit, but sometimes we have to take him off the field to rest.”
Hendricks doesn’t plan to be done with football after graduation. He is looking to play at the next level and continue his hard-hitting ways.
“I like the physical,” he said. “I love going in there and fighting people and having those battles. I love hitting people, that’s why I love defense so much. I love getting in there and fighting people, even if they’re a 300-pound lineman. I’m not the biggest guy, but I still love it.”