Alabama Football News

Former Tide RB Derrick Henry has high school jersey retired

Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

His grandmother, Gladys Henry, smiles as she looks upon her grandson who made an impact in high school, college, and is now performing well in the National Football League. 

Before rudely announcing himself as the best running back in college football, Derrick Henry bullied opposition for four years at Yulee (Fla.) High School. He was bigger, faster and stronger than everyone else, and it led to him posting three consecutive 2,000+ yard rushing seasons. 

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As a senior, Henry exploded in 2012 with a state-record 4,261 yards and 55 touchdowns. 

Ken Hall, a product of Sugar Land (Texas) High School and former NFL back, held the career mark for rushing yards in high school (11,232) for 59 years – until Henry surpassed him and became a USA Today High School All-American.

He would parlay that success into earning a five-star rating on recruiting and ultimately was the face of collegiate sports at Alabama. In three years (2013-15), Henry brought smiles to Crimson Tide fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium and frustration to opposing defenses. For a guy that weighed nearly 250 pounds, he possessed a gear in open space that had people befuddled. Despite coming close to 1,000 yards as a sophomore in 2014, Henry’s crowning moment came during the following season. 

Derrick Henry

RB Derrick Henry celebrates rushing TD in 2015 Cotton Bowl between Alabama and Michigan State: Photo comes from Cedric Mason – Touchdown Alabama Magazine

He posted 2,219 yards with 28 scores, both of which were single-season records in 2015. 

His mixture of speed, power and ability to wear opponents down allowed for Henry to sweep all awards that year. The former “Mr. Florida” took home the Doak Walker Award, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy. 

The unanimous All-American, first-team All-SEC selection and College Football Playoff champion returned to Yulee on Friday. Henry’s legendary No. 2 jersey was retired and many were in attendance to honor the individual who brought attention to the small school. 

It was lessons taken from his grandmother and Nick Saban that have him entering his fourth season in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans. When it decided to trust in Henry in 2018, the 247-pounder tallied 1,059 yards (seventh in NFL) with 12 scores (tied for third in NFL) and nearly brought the Titans to the playoffs – if not for the Indianapolis Colts standing in the way. 

He is expected to be even better next fall. 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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