by Chris Johnson (@chrisdjohnsonn)
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Position: Safety/Running back
Star rating: three-star, No. 43 RB
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 200 pounds
Other offers: Boston College, UConn, Duke, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Illinois, Maryland, NC State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Western Michigan, Yale
What’s to like
While most schools recruited him as a running back, Henry signed with NU to play safety. He played both positions at Pine Crest high school, and in his senior season posted 542 rushing yards, 267 receiving yards, 57 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and one blocked field goal. There’s not a whole lot more you can do to fill up a season-long stat sheet, and for Henry, that versatility is what made him such an intriguing prospect. Focusing on one position is all well and good, particularly when you’re all but certain that’s where you’re going to end up playing in college. Henry, for reasons we may never know, continued to broaden his horizons, focusing more on developing a versatile repertoire of skills than honing one particular facet of his game. So whether he fills in at safety, running back, special teams or elsewhere, Henry can contribute in a variety of ways. For now, it looks as if Henry will slide in at safety, but his vast array of skills affords him the opportunity to supply help where needed. If for some reason or another, injury problems arise at running back, Henry could provide depth. It’s a nice insurance policy to have.
NU faced stiff competition in landing the Fort Lauderdale native, who held offers from more than a dozen schools. Before committing in early October, Henry narrowed down his lengthy list of suitors to a top four of Florida State, Duke, Georgia Tech and NU. After visiting campus, speaking with coach Pat Fitzgerald and talking to some of the other 2012 commits, Henry was sold. One of the most decorated recruits of NU’s 2012 class, Henry should be a multi-year starter with the Wildcats. It’s difficult to make too many predictions at this early stage, but Henry is a talented player with huge upside. He has the physical and mental makeup of an impact player at the next level.
As if his exploits on the football field weren’t already enough, Henry also garnered First-team All-State honors in basketball his junior and senior seasons. His overall athleticism—excellent straight line speed, quickness in short spaces, bruising upper body strength—no doubt contributed to his cross-sport excellence. What’s of greater concern is his ability to refine those physical tools into tangibly productive football plays. Henry, at 6-1, 200-pounds, boasts great size to go along with an aggressive style of play. He relentlessly pursues ballcarriers and wraps-up well in space. Henry thrives in physical, bump-and-run coverage, but is also comfortable in zone schemes. He shows great spatial awareness and a ballhawking mentality, with the ball skills to intercept passes and run them back the other way. As safeties go, Henry offers the complete package.
Prospects for next season
The secondary is with little doubt the Wildcats’ weakest position group heading into this season. Safety Ibraheim Campbell is the lone returning starter, while junior Davion Fleming holds a slight advantage for the other starting safety spot, with senior Hunter Bates and sophomore Jimmy Hall expected to provide competition. Henry, for all his talent and superb physical tools, is unlikely to play on defense this season. As such, his best option is redshirting. Henry can use his first year on campus to acclimate himself into a new team environment, learn the defense and mature physically, all of which will help him make a stronger push for playing time next season. He could play on special teams this season, but for a player as talented as Henry—for whom the best approach involves trying to maximize his playing time on defense over a four-year period—playing a minimal special teams role would be wasting a years’ worth of valuable eligibility. Any value he could provide on coverage team this season is far outweighed by the long-term benefits—mental, physical and everything in between—of a redshirt year. Still, there’s no doubt Henry, barring injury or a drastic underperformance of expectations, should serve as a major component in NU’s plans to revamp the secondary down the line.
What he’s saying
“Northwestern is going to make major moves,” Henry told PurpleWildcats.Com, predicting a bright future for the Wildcats.
What they’re saying
“Like a lot of Big 10 conference running backs, Henry’s a big back first. He’ll get most of his yards running between the tackles. He’s a big (6-1/200), strong kid who can be very physical with his running style. He’s at his best between the tackles and he’s always falling forward. He can block too, and he’s a kid who just knows how to move the chains. He’s the team’s top pass-catcher so he brings some of that to the table, too.”—Mike Bakas, Scout.Com recruiting analyst.