When you combine 6’3″ 247 pounds with a 4.54 40 yard dash, what do you get? Derrick Henry. This is such an unusual blend of size and speed that it is tough to compare him to another running back accurately. Using his freakish athletic ability, he dominated in high school and college, but the NFL has been an entirely different story. He has struggled to develop consistency in the pros, and that has held him back from reaching his full potential- which is superstardom. With that being said, let’s take a more in-depth look into the life of Derrick Henry.
Full Name: Derrick Lamar Henry Jr.
Birthdate: January 4th, 1994
Birthplace: Yulee, Florida
Team: Tennessee Titans-NFL
High School Career
Derrick Henry attended Yulee High School in his hometown of Yulee, Florida. Earlier in this post when I said he dominated in high school, he DOMINATED. As a freshman, he ran for 2,465 yards and 26 T.D.’s. In his sophomore year, he rushed for 2,788 yards and 38 T.D.’s, while as a junior he ran for 2,610 yards and 34 T.D.’s. Absolutely dominant numbers through his first three years of high school, but his senior season is just on another planet. He ran for 4,261 yards and 55 T.D.’s as a senior at Yulee.
These numbers earned him a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and prompted ESPN to rate him as a five-star prospect and number one athlete in the 2013 recruiting class. Derrick initially committed to play for the University of Georgia, until he decided to decommit and commit to the University of Alabama.
After being a four year starter in high school, Derrick Henry was going to be taking on a backup role for the first time as a freshman at Alabama. This led to him not receiving much playing time, which his numbers reflect as he only received 36 carries for 382 yards and three T.D.’s. He had a solid outing in a loss to Oklahoma in the 2014 Sugar Bowl which provided him with some momentum heading into his sophomore season.
As a sophomore, Derrick and teammate T.J. Yeldon formed a 1A/1B backfield as they both split carries throughout the year. As Derrick Henry’s workload increased, so did his numbers. As a sophomore, he ran for 990 yards and 11 T.D.’s on 172 rushes. Derrick and Alabama were defeated in the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the hands of Ezekiel Elliot and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Going into his junior year, expectations for Derrick were through the roof with Yeldon heading to the NFL. This was Derrick’s backfield for the first time in his collegiate career, and he took the opportunity and ran with it. As a Junior, he ran for 2,219 yards and 28 T.D.’s on 395 carries. All of the three stats were SEC records. The Derrick Henry led Alabama Crimson Tide went on to win the National Championship over Clemson. Derrick was also awarded the Heisman Trophy, along with the Maxwell Award, Doak Walker Award, and the Walter Camp Award. Following Derrick’s historic season, he decided to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft, ending his legendary college career.
With the 45th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans selected Derrick Henry. This was somewhat of a surprising pick because the Titans had just recently traded for former All-Pro running back Demarco Murray. Derrick Henry entered Tennessee as the clear backup to Derrick Henry, and it would remain that way for the next two seasons. Henry’s rookie season was average at best, as he ran for 490 yards and five touchdowns. In Derrick’s second season with the Titans, he ran for 744 yards and five touchdowns once again.
Demarco Murray had been injured in a late-season game for the Titans and was out for the 2017 NFL Playoffs, which allowed Derrick to start in the Titan’s first playoff game since 2008. Derrick took advantage of his chance to start and wound up breaking Tennessee’s Playoff Record for most yards from scrimmage in a game. Derrick recorded 191 yards from scrimmage and added one touchdown in the Titan’s comeback win over the Kansas City Chiefs. This was the Titan’s first playoff win in 14 years, and Derrick played a massive role in the victory. The Titans ended up losing to the eventual AFC Champion New England Patriots in the next round of the playoffs.
In the offseason, the Titan’s decided to hand the starting running back job to Derrick Henry and showed so much faith in him that they released Demarco Murray. The 2018 season was a tale of two halves for Derrick Henry, as he struggled in the first half of the season, but showed how good he could be in the second half of the season.
Up until Week 14 of the 2018 season, Derrick Henry had significantly failed his expectations as he was unable to rush for over 60 yards in a single game up to this point. This completely changed whenever Week 14 rolled around, and the Titans were facing the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. Derrick erupted for 238 yards and four touchdowns in this game including a 99-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He broke the Titan’s franchise record for rushing yards in a game, breaking Chris Johnson’s 228 yards game against the Jaguars in 2009.
He did not let up from there, as he rushed for 347 yards and three T.D.’s over the last three games of the 2018 season. This late-season outburst led to Derrick Henry being named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for December. He was also named an alternate for the Pro-Bowl. Derrick finished the season with 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns.
With Derrick Henry finishing the season historically strong, the expectations are higher than they have ever been. Derrick is also scheduled to be a free agent after the upcoming season, and if he is able to build off of the momentum he gained to close last season, he should be in for a large payday. Derrick Henry has been dominant at all stages in his career, and the 2019 season is going to be the season where he will finally rise to stardom in the NFL.