Hendershot ‘remorseful,’ says ‘huge mistake’ led to February arrest

In December and January, Indiana tight end Peyton Hendershot was receiving nothing but praise for a record-breaking season.

By the end of February, an off-the-field incident had him in the news for all the wrong reasons.

As he spoke with the media Friday, in his first appearance since a February arrest, Hendershot took the step of publicly apologizing and reiterating a commitment to bettering himself.

“I can’t explain how disappointed I was (in myself),” Hendershot said. “I think it’s so crazy in this world that if you don’t humble yourself, God will. After the bowl game, when I broke the record, to have the most tight end receptions and yards (at IU in a season), I was at the highest point in my life. And in two months, I was at the lowest point in my life.

“It’s crazy how life can hit you, and I saw my life and my career and my future flash in front of me. And I never wanted to be in that position again.”

In the weeks immediately following his February arrest on four misdemeanor charges, including domestic battery and criminal trespass, Hendershot was suspended from all team activities. He accepted a plea deal in June, pleading guilty to the trespass charge while the rest were dropped. In exchange, he was sentenced to one year on probation, given a mental health evaluation, and entered into a batterers treatment program.

The victim had told police that Hendershot entered her apartment without permission, accusing her of infidelity. She reported that he then took her cellphone to look at calls and texts, and when she tried to retrieve the phone, Hendershot shoved her against a wall.

According to IU coach Tom Allen, a university committee evaluated Hendershot’s case and determined no further punishment was necessary beyond his spring suspension.

“I want to say I made a huge mistake and I’m sorry to all the people who were involved,” Hendershot said. “Everybody I let down, I feel horrible and so remorseful for it, because there are so many people who have helped me get to where I am in my life.

“I feel like that was just a letdown to all of them and they all believed in me and that’s what I did.”

Hendershot, the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder from North Salem, was a third-team All-Big Ten selection last season, amassing 52 receptions for 622 yards. While there are certainly hopes he will continue to grow as a football player in 2020, Hendershot needed to reevaluate other parts of himself following his off-the-field incident.

Tight ends coach Kevin Wright, who arrived to IU in January, expressed confidence in Hendershot moving forward.

“When things happen off the field, either they are a pattern of things that have happened previously or it’s a one-time deal. I think for him, and his situation, it wasn’t something that had been a repetitive pattern,” Wright said. “It happened, we moved on from it, we talked a lot. I think the biggest thing he did was he took it very seriously on the fact that he wanted to improve, not just as a football player but as a young man.

“I think he’s done every single thing you can possibly do, given the situation he was put in, to try and improve as a young man and not just as a football player.”

In fact, Wright pointed to Hendershot and junior Matt Bjorson as the leaders of his tight end room.

“When things happen and you deal with adversity, you can make it about yourself in a lot of different ways,” Wright said. “We’ve got a couple of young players that have potential to be, I think, very good. (Freshman) AJ Barner, for example. He’s done a really good job of mentoring AJ and helping him grow. … That’s part of the process of human growth, of coming alongside other people and not focusing on you necessarily, or your own goals, but coming alongside guys in your tight end room.”

Hendershot had to work on himself both mentally and physically to be able to come back to football.

He’s had two surgeries since the end of last season, including work to repair a shoulder injury that occurred in the bowl game versus Tennessee. He’s come a long way just in the last two months, because Hendershot said in August he was contemplating opting out due to concerns about his health.

Wright now says Hendershot is in “the best shape of his life.”

“I’ve never had a bad injury in my entire life, it was very hard,” Hendershot said. “Right when we were about to start the first time, I talked to my coaches about opting out, because I didn’t feel comfortable being out there. But I feel like that delayed time gave me another month to really get my body back to where I needed to be, and I feel really good coming into the season.”

On the field, he hopes to be an important part of IU’s offense, a player redshirt sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr. will look to in important moments.

But again, he also just wants to be a better man. Bjorson, for one, will vouch for Hendershot’s growth in all facets.

“Peyton’s always been one of my closest friends, ever since I’ve been here, both on and off the field,” Bjorson said. “Just his change in leadership has really made a big stride. I was always pushing him and trying to get him motivated, all of us, we’d go back in forth. But now I see him as a whole — not even with the tight end group, but as the offense — when Peyton is going good and playing good and pushing people good, the whole offense is playing (well).

“He’s a big power to drive our offense.”

4 comments

  1. First of all, I fully admit that I am not fully objective on this topic. Having said that, I appreciate Hendershot’s remorse and that he takes full responsibility for his actions. I really hope he has learned a HUGE lesson from this experience and that the counseling he’s getting takes root. Everyone deserves a second chance (for most offenses), but there is a lot of data to suggest that men who put their hands on women in anger will be repeat offenders. I hope for his and his family’s sake that Hendershot is an exception.

    1. Po, I am with you hoping that he has made a real change in dealing with getting his heart broken as it won’t be the last time he faces this issue. Controlling a woman in any way is not a good thing to be in the habit of doing. If his counseling is to work they needed to get to the core of why he wants to control his partner instead of controlling himself. He does deserve a second chance like many people do but there is no lee way in the future for him if he wants to achieve the goals he has set.

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