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Heisman Winners: Derrick Henry (2015)

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By Maximillian C. Burgos | Contributing Writer

Being born to a 15-year old mother, Stacy Veal, and a 16-year old Derrick Henry Sr., Derrick Henry started life from the most disadvantaged beginnings. Glady Henry, Derrick Henry’s grandmother called him ‘Shocka’ because of the shock she had when she found out that she was going to be a grandmother so soon in life. She had no idea at the time, that he would ascend to be on of the most prolific running backs of the 2015 Heisman campaign.

She had no idea at the time, that he would ascend to be on of the most prolific running backs of the 2015 Heisman campaign.

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Derrick Henry (Getty Images)

Derrick Henry was born on July 17, 1994, in Yulee, Florida.  Yulee, Florida is a small city of 12,000 people, according to the last census. It has been known to be the home of some other notable people, like Karl Anderson, Kyle Denney, Zack Taylor and D.J. Stewart.

Anderson previously played for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA. Like Anderson, Denney is a retired athlete, as he played in the MLB with the Cleveland Indians during the 2004 season.

Taylor, who played in the MLB from 1920 to 1935, also was a manager for the St. Louis Browns. Stewart is an outfielder in the Baltimore Orioles organization.

Henry’s father, Henry Sr., got into his fair share of trouble while younger Henry was growing up. Henry Sr. was arrested multiple times for possession of marijuana and cocaine. Henry’s grandmother was the voice of reason within Henry’s life while he was growing up. His father did have words of wisdom for him about his own life style.

His father did have words of wisdom for him about his own life style.

“You don’t need to do that,” he told Henry when he was younger, according to an ESPN interview. “I mean, that’s no life. You can wait and don’t get started early. You have a chance to be somebody, not just sit around and let your life waste away.”

Despite his father’s trouble, Henry excelled in high school, propelling himself to instant recognition and stardom early on. In his freshmen year, Henry exploded onto the scene rushing for 2,365 yards and 26 touchdowns, showing that he was just on a different level athletically; but this was only the beginning of his success in the realm of football.

He finished his high school career with 12,124 career rushing yards breaking Ken Hall’s record. He earned USA Today’s High School All-American, Florida’s Mr. Football and the Columbus Touchdown National High School Player of the Year award at the end of his senior year campaign. With all of his accolades, ESPN.com had Henry ranked as the number one athlete in the nation in 2013. He committed to the University of Georgia but ended up attending the University of Alabama to play for Nick Saban after they had won the national championship.

With all of his accolades, ESPN.com had Henry ranked as the number one athlete in the nation in 2013. He committed to the University of Georgia but ended up attending the University of Alabama to play for Nick Saban after they had won the national championship.

Henry’s freshman year under Saban did not go as he had hoped. In his freshmen year, before Alabama went to the Sugar Bowl, Henry was displeased with his carries and opportunities on the year and had serious thoughts on leaving the University of Alabama. Henry’s family convinced him to talk to Saban and talk about what they could do.

Saban had no idea that Henry was so displeased and assured him he would get his opportunity to contribute to the team in the Sugar Bowl as the number two running back. Henry took advantage of his opportunity and accumulated 161 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.

In his sophomore year, Henry shared time with another Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon. Henry rushed for 990 yards on 172 carries with 11 touchdowns, but he still was not able to shine the way he wanted to.

In his junior year, Henry showed that he was the clearly superior to other running backs. He rushed for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 395 carries in 15 games. In the National Championship game against powerhouse Clemson Tigers, Henry rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns. He won the Heisman Trophy beating out amazing players like Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey and Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Henry also won a plethora of other awards in his junior year campaign. He won the Maxwell Award, the Doak Walker Award, the Walter Camp Award, he was a unanimous All-American, first-team All-SEC and SEC Offensive Player of the Year. He had a solid draft stock and chose to declare for the draft rather than come back to Alabama for his senior year.

He had a solid draft stock and chose to declare for the draft rather than come back to Alabama for his senior year.

Derrick Henry (Getty Images)

Derrick Henry (Getty Images)

The Titans, being cautious with their decision to pick up Henry also traded with the Philadelphia Eagles, for DeMarco Murray.Henry was drafted in the second round as the 45th overall pick by the Tennessee Titans. There were some questions as to whether or not Henry’s bruising running style would translate well to the NFL. The Titans, being cautious with their decision to pick up Henry also traded for Demarco Murray.

In Henry’s rookie year, he was the second-string running back, playing behind Murray. He did manage to rush for 490 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and scored five rushing touchdowns. He also contributed to the passing game catching 13 passes for 137 yards.

Coming into his sophomore season in the NFL, Henry’s time may be coming to show the world what he’s made of. Murray is only getting older, while Henry is only 23. If Murray goes down or if father time catches him earlier than anticipated, Henry could truly light up the NFL with his legs.

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