Alabama Football Recruiting: 3 Things That Make Derrick Henry Special
Despite waiting on several heralded to recruits to declare their college choices on national signing day, Alabama has already welcomed seven early enrollees—including 5-star standout running back Derrick Henry.
The nation’s all-time leading rusher in the prep ranks, Henry arrives in Tuscaloosa as the next in the line of freakish talents at the running back position.
Nick Saban and the Tide were able to lure Henry away from a previous commitment to Georgia, and like T.J. Yeldon a year ago, Henry has the chance to get a head start on his career by taking part in spring drills.
What can Tide fans expect to see when Henry takes the field this fall? What are his biggest strengths, and what makes him one of the cornerstones of the 2013 recruiting class?
Here are three things that make Henry a truly special talent.
Standing at 6’3”, 240 pounds, Henry is a freakish specimen that has the size to play defensive end or linebacker.
That size combined with the agility of a skill player (more on that later) is a deadly combination at a school considering the Tide loves to pound the football behind their powerful offensive line.
With Yeldon and a host of other talented backs forming a deep rotation, Henry will provide a fresh big back that will be a load for opponents to bring down on first contact.
As B/R’s Michael Felder points out, the key for Henry this spring will be adding strength without picking up weight.
Simply put, a back like Henry is the last thing the Tide’s opponents want to see after having to try and tackle guys like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and Yeldon over the last five seasons.
As I mentioned earlier, Henry is not the typical big back that can only run between the tackles and lacks a burst to break the big play.
Henry’s unique combination of size and athleticism at the running back position stands out even at a school blessed with outstanding play at the position in recent years.
Whereas most players that get tagged with the “big back” label are limited in the ways they can contribute to an offense, Henry has no such restrictions.
With Saban coveting versatility amongst his backs, Henry is a capable receiver out of the backfield and his size will be an asset in pass-blocking.
The trait that turns a good back into a special back is the ability to anticipate holes opening and hitting them when they appear.
You don’t pile up 11,610 yards on the prep level without being able to hit holes, and Henry is certainly blessed with the vision to find holes and cut back to find running room when he’s in the open field.
The Sunshine State product has all the necessary physical tools to be a dominant college back.
Alabama’s offensive system seems to be a perfect marriage with Henry’s skill set. If the success of the Tide’s recent freshman standouts at that position is any indicator, Henry’s record-setting ways in high school could very well continue during his tenure at the Capstone.