Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007. He also hosts Recruiting Thursday each Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. statewide.
Henry quick study at tight end
Pulaski Academy tight end Hunter Henry during warm-ups before playing Mills at Rector field in Little Rock. Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JIMMY JONES
LITTLE ROCK Pulaski Academy’s Hunter Henry, who’s committed to Arkansas, started out his Bruin career playing left tackle on offense as a freshman, but that changed once coach Kevin Kelley saw him playing basketball.
“I thought this is a kid that could catch the ball and move he’s feet and he’s good in space,” Kelley said. “It’s something I wanted to do so I talked to his dad and told him what I was going to do. I wanted him to be on board with it at home so he was encouraging Hunter. He was great, ‘you’re the coach whatever’, just the way I knew he would be.”
The move proved wise after Henry, who plans to make an official visit to Alabama this weekend, had 45 receptions for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. He has 77 receptions for 978 yards and 11 touchdowns this season and his career numbers are 186 receptions for 2,819 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Henry, 6-5, 235 pounds, 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash, will play in the Under Armour All-American game on Jan. 4 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“He had a lot to learn,” Kelley said. “Anybody coming into our system as a receiver is going to have a lot to learn. He had to learn how we run the routes and the way we space ourselves out not just before the play but during the play.”
Kelley, who calls Henry’s blocking ability “Unbelievable”, uses him as an example to all ages in the Bruin’s football programs.
“I say ‘you can’t look and think that’s because he’s a big kid’, ” Kelley said. “It’s probably harder for him out in space to stay with some of these little [defensive] backs he’s having to block. That’s all want to, all desire. Now when he finishes them off and pancakes them there’s some size involved. His ability to block comes from his desire and his attitude towards it. He thinks it’s something he should do, he loves to do it and it shows.”
Kelley said Henry is the best blocking receiver he’s ever seen on any level.
“I would take that kid right now,” Kelley said. “I think on any level guys either don’t want to do it or afraid they’re going to get hurt doing it or kind of saving themselves thinking ‘well I have to run two more routes right after this’.”