Undra Hendrix is the latest free agent addition of the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. Last season his hard nosed running while playing Fullback for the High Country Grizzlies drew rave reviews from every corner of the league. While the Grizzlies struggled with injuries at key positions all over the field, Undra showed up every game, moved the chains, and scored 12 TDs. Despite his team winning only three games,Hendrix performance was good enough for 2nd team All-NAL. After the season ended and he became a prized free agent, Hendrix entertained offers from the AAL, CIF, and the NAL. Deciding to remain in the NAL, he chose Lehigh Valley for, among other reasons, the chance to play with NAL MVP QB Warren Smith Jr.. Said Undra, “I had to decide what would be the best situation and for me. That meant having a QB. I’ve never won a championship, and so it was going to be Columbus or Lehigh. You know they’re both going to be right there at the end, but with Warren, I just felt like Lehigh was the better fit for me.”
Despite his success running the ball indoors, as a student at Carrolton Ranchview High School in the northwest edge of Dallas, he played both Quarterback and Middle Linebacker. He said, “In my senior year, I did everything. The best time I had was playing MLB. Reading the keys and being the captain of the defense was pretty cool.” In his senior year, they switched him to the defensive line, and he said, “Putting my hand in the dirt and having to learn all of those pass rusher moves was kind of an adjustment.” After high school, Hendrix attended Division 3, Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. The coaching staff kept him on the defensive line and in his senior year, he broke the single-season sack’s record for DTs and was named as an All-American. While he admits he had a great season, He is quick to point out, “the team didn’t do as well as I’d have liked.”
After college, he attended a pro-day at Abilene Christian and then moved on to the regional combine. Unfortunately, he didn’t get invited to any NFL mini-camps. He continued, “In 2013, I went to a couple of CFL workouts.” When that didn’t pan out, he broke into the arena game with the Laredo Rattlesnakes in the old Lone Star League. With Hendrix playing on the D-line, the team had a pretty good season making it all the way to the league championship game. “We played the Amarillo Venom in the championship but lost the game. After that, Laredo folded so I moved to Amarillo and that’s where I got switched from DL to FB.”
It was in Amarillo, he picked up the nickname “Wrecking Ball.” He said, “My first day at camp Head Coach (Julian) Reese, asked me when was the last time I ran the ball? I told him I hadn’t since I was in high school, and
he was like you’re going to have to run the ball now because I like your size!” The coach also told him his running ability would be the key to moving up to the higher leagues. He continued, “sure enough I led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns that year, and it led me to a contract with the Jacksonville Sharks in the AFL.”
He was in training camp for a week when he found himself traded to Las Vegas for Derrick Ross. Ross has become the prototypical Fullback in the NAL and the player Hendrix studies. Las Vegas fell apart under a cloud of mismanagement, and Undra returned to indoor football. He continued, “I ended up leaving Las Vegas and going back to Amarillo. It was the first year of the CIF. I played there for a year and then after the season, I was signed by the Tampa Bay Storm in the AFL. I played there for the next year and a half.” After Tampa, he signed with the Texas Revolution for their 2016 playoff run. He played the season finale and the playoff game with them but once again fell just short of winning a championship.
While with the Revs, he became their Swiss Army knife playing D-line Mac LB, and Fullback. While he enjoys being able to p
lay both sides, he definitely favors running the ball and scoring TDs. When asked if he thought he had any holes in his game, he immediately pointed to his ability as a blocker. This is where the Ross comparison is most important to him. He said, “Teams who played against him would say he wasn’t a great blocker, that he couldn’t stop the bull rush. Every year he got better and at this point in his career, I don’t think he’s giving up too many sacks.” He continued, “I can run the ball, but I’ve seen what he’s been able to do, and I want to be a better blocker.”
Last season, Lehigh finished third in the league in total rushing, but their failure to close out
Columbus for the right to advance to the championship may be the reason they were eager to bring in Undra. Bradley Wyreaz rushed for 8 TD’s in 2017, and Warren Smith punched the ball in another five times. Adding Hendrix 12 TDs gives the Steelhawks an even more potent attack which will keep defenses guessing. Hendrix said, “You’re going to have to pick your poison. If you keep the Jack in to stop me, Warren will pick you apart.” Choosing to drop the Jack to slow down Smith leaves the defense vulnerable to Hendrix coming downhill with a full head of steam. While he may not be the fastest guy on the field, getting body shot by the 280 pound Wrecking Ball early, will pay dividends for Lehigh late.
Undra Hendrix is generally an upbeat guy. He said, “Everybody says when I’m on the field, I’m always happy. I’m always laughing even if something bad is going on.” When asked what accounts for his demeanor, he said, “My youngest son, when he was born, he was in the hospital for two months with some blood clots and different things. When that happened with him, I stopped taking everything for granted.” He added, “I almost lost one of my sons. Now, he’s one of the healthiest boys you’ll ever see. If he can fight, I can fight.” When he’s not on the football field, Hendrix provides for his wife and two boys as a Warehouseman in Fort Worth, Texas. He still believes he can make it to the CFL or NFL, but one way or the other, his immediate goal is helping Lehigh win a championship. Over the years, he has won many personal accolades, but the one thing that has eluded him has been a championship. With the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks there is a very real possibility of getting over that hurdle.