Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Breakout Run Might Turn the Tide; Yulee Cheered When Backup Henry Went for 80 Yards Late

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Breakout Run Might Turn the Tide; Yulee Cheered When Backup Henry Went for 80 Yards Late

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Barney

Derrick Henry turned the corner on Saturday night and never looked back.

If it looked familiar for area football fans, it should. Henry rewrote the rushing record books at Yulee, and his fans, the community and massive Twitter audience hope that he's just getting started doing the same thing at Alabama.

"We've seen that before, that's what I told him when I texted him," said J.T. Medley, one of Henry's mentors and a close friend. "That's classic Derrick Henry."

Henry took a pitch from backup quarterback Blake Sims, started out running to his right, hit stop and went around the left end and down the sideline, outrunning an Arkansas defensive back and a safety in the process.

Eighty yards in 11.5 seconds.

More than the final score (Alabama won 52-0) was the home-run swing by Henry, whose first college touchdown with under a minute to play looked similar to his final touchdown run for Yulee - a 63-yarder with under a minute to go against Bolles on Nov. 30, 2012.

All the questions about whether a back of his size (6-foot-3, 238 pounds) had the speed and lateral moves and vision to play in the SEC were answered with that one carry, the longest of his college career. In limited action for the Crimson Tide, Henry has 196 yards on 18 carries, third on the team behind T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. The question that's been asked more than a few times is why hasn't Alabama used Henry more?

"I don't think people understand how difficult it is to go somewhere like that and play, it's a loaded backfield," said Yulee coach Bobby Ramsay. "It's not the initial impact of getting there. You don't go there looking for instant gratification, you go there for the process and what that's going to turn you into. Everybody looked at T.J. and expected Derrick to do the same thing. T.J. walked into a different situation."

Henry's 80-yarder was one of his six carries in the game, and he finished with a career-best 111 yards. For the perspective on it, Alabama was hammering Arkansas and in the process of burning the clock out in the fourth quarter. But when it comes to Henry, anything the Nassau County icon does is big news. Fans in Yulee and across the First Coast saw him make dozens and dozens of plays with the Hornets like his run against the Razorbacks, but it was something else seeing Henry do it against SEC competition.

"I was excited, my whole family jumped off the couch yelling and stuff," Medley said. "We rewound it on TiVo and watched it about 18 times."

Henry's tenure at Alabama has been relatively smooth. Outside of the mountain of hype that follows him, Henry has done what he's needed to do. He enrolled last January, and by all accounts, was having a solid transition to college before breaking his fibula and tearing ligaments in his ankle during an April 13 scrimmage. …

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