Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ALABAMA NOTEBOOK: Alabama Faces Challenge with Arkansas Tight End Hunter Henry

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ALABAMA NOTEBOOK: Alabama Faces Challenge with Arkansas Tight End Hunter Henry

Article excerpt

Nick Saban had a litany of praises for Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry. Bret Bielema said his star junior is "really, really good at everything he does."

University of Alabama safety Geno Matias-Smith, who might find himself matched up with Henry on Saturday, was more concise in his assessment.

"He's the best tight end in the country," Matias-Smith said. "That's what the reports say."

Henry leads all SEC tight ends with 20 catches for 268 yards so far this year, and is considered one of the top prospects for the 2016 or 2017 NFL Draft at his position. He was a preseason All- American candidate this year, and is second on the team in receptions and yards.

"Hunter Henry is probably in my mind maybe the best tight end in the country in terms of he's got great size, he's very athletic, he's a very good receiver, but he blocks well, he does everything that you could ask a guy to do," UA coach Nick Saban said.

That versatility is an asset in Arkansas' offense, which requires an adept blocker at tight end to help its trademark rushing attack. Henry arrived at Arkansas under 220 pounds but is now listed at 6-5 and 253 pounds.

He plays on the line as a traditional tight end and flexes out as a receiver. Henry is a tough matchup in either case. Matias-Smith said the best way to handle him in coverage is to watch his hips to stay in front of him. But that's easier said than done for most defenders.

"He's just one of those guys that from a tight end standpoint, he catches really good, he blocks really good, he understands the concepts really good," Bielema said. "He doesn't have any flaws or fleas."

The last two meetings between Alabama and Arkansas left quite an impression on Razorback coach Bret Bielema. He said the 52-0 loss in Tuscaloosa during his first year at Arkansas was among his most embarrassing losses as a head coach.

The 2014 meeting in Fayetteville also took a toll. After losing 14-13 to Alabama, the Hogs lost to Georgia in Little Rock to fall to 3-4 on the season.

"You learn from last year's mistakes, without a doubt," he said. "I think last year's setback mentally, was a setback against Alabama. The next week we probably played the clunker of the year against Georgia. …

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