Analysis: Henry's pledge simply massive for Arkansas

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2018
Hudson Henry, Pulaski Academy receiver, evades Cole Bowen (5), Springdale Har-Ber cornerback, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, during the game at Wildcat Stadium in Springdale.
Photo by Ben Goff
Hudson Henry, Pulaski Academy receiver, evades Cole Bowen (5), Springdale Har-Ber cornerback, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, during the game at Wildcat Stadium in Springdale.

— Let’s be honest and clear about one thing regarding Arkansas’ highly ranked recruiting class and the Thursday high-noon addition of Pulaski Academy standout Hudson Henry (6-5, 230), the nation’s top tight end.

No matter if the class had risen into the top 10 or stayed in the top 15 nationally without the addition of the pledge of Henry - who announced Thursday that he would indeed follow family tradition and be a Razorback - some would have found it lacking.

Now, everybody can be happy that the state’s highest-ranked talent is pledge No. 22 in a class that Rivals has ranked 12th nationally after Henry’s commitment.

Henry - ranked 54th nationally by ESPN - and Warren wide receiver and Razorback commit Treylon Burks (6-3, 210) - ranked 84th by ESPN - are both top 100 players nationally.

These two ultra-productive players have combined to catch nearly 400 passes in their high school careers.

If you want to turn your program around sooner than later, you can’t miss on the top 100 national talents in your state because they come along so infrequently.

First-year Arkansas coach Chad Morris has not won as much on the football field as fans would like, but he has certainly had almost unprecedented success on the recruiting trail, and that has given fans hope.

Be it landing two top-100 players nationally, 11 4-star prospects or 15 players ranked in the top 500, the class is better than what has been hauled around here lately based on that data alone.

There are several other high school stars who appear ready to jump in as well, and likely a few junior college players, before the early signing period, which runs December 19-21.

The class could still use a boost with a few studs in the offensive line and at linebacker, areas that no doubt will be a focus down the stretch in a class that could number as many as 29.

Henry follows in the footsteps of older brother Hunter, who was an All-American tight end for the Razorbacks and is now in the NFL, and older brother Hayden, a sophomore linebacker at Arkansas who has totaled 13 tackles this season.

The family business goes deeper than that with dad, Mark Henry, having been an All-Southwest Conference offensive lineman for the Razorbacks and grandfather Charlie Coffman having played basketball for Arkansas.

Henry could play his college football about anywhere he wanted to and got his final five down to Arkansas, Stanford, Penn State, Clemson and Wisconsin from some 50 or so colleges.

A trip to Stanford that Henry raved about last weekend no doubt worried Arkansas fans, but the young man has always been clear to me and others about his allegiance to Arkansas.

He wanted to be a Razorback, but also needed to see Morris and his new staff throw the ball to tight ends at Arkansas.

It made sense to me since Morris and his staff did not exactly do that at SMU, where there were no tight ends to be found when they arrived to take over for June Jones.

I think Hudson’s decision was already made before last Saturday, but it sure didn’t hurt that Razorbacks junior tight end Cheyenne O’Grady caught seven passes for 48 yards and two touchdowns against No. 1 Alabama.

O’Grady, who many expected to be the top pass-catcher for Arkansas this season, is finally getting going after being suspended. He likely would have around 30 catches if he had been in his spot from Day 1.

Razorbacks fans are drooling over Henry and a quartet of four-star receivers (Burks, Trey Knox, Shamar Nash and TQ Jackson) being added to those already on campus.

Henry’s announcement kicks off a big weekend in Little Rock.

Arkansas' baseball team will travel to face UALR in a scrimmage beginning at 4:30 p.m. at a sold out Gary Hogan Field, and the Razorbacks football team will then host Ole Miss at War Memorial Stadium Saturday night at 6:30 p.m.

War Memorial Stadium is a very familiar place for Hudson Henry, who has already celebrated two state championships there with Pulaski Academy, which is vying for its fifth consecutive state title.

The fact that he plans to become the fourth member of his family to play there in college as well is a big, big deal.

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