Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Healthy Hudson: TE Henry looking to deliver big season
Arkansas tight end Hudson Henry is shown running a route during a preseason practice on Sept. 4, 2020 in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
There was a collision during Saturday’s football scrimmage that involved Arkansas hard-hitting safety Jalen Catalon, which is in no way surprising.
The difference in this one was tight end Hudson Henry (6-5, 255) delivered the brunt of the impact instead of being the recipient.
“We don’t want to get bullied. We want to be the bully,” Henry said of the mindset of Arkansas’ tight ends. “I made a great play on Jalen. We both had a pretty big collision on the sideline.”
Catalon, who is still delivering his fair share of big hits, is impressed with Henry’s physical and mental growth.
“He has definitely got a lot more physical,” Catalon said. “You can tell he has started to gain a lot more confidence and is starting to realize his potential and what he has to offer for the offense and to give to the offense.
“He is having a really good spring so far. He is having less (missed assignments) and you can tell he is flowing fast and moving fast. You can tell he knows most of what is going on. He has definitely gotten stronger. I learned that the hard way. He has definitely gotten a little bit stronger.”
Henry, the younger brother of both former Arkansas All-American tight end Hunter Henry and current Razorbacks linebacker Hayden Henry, has battled injuries throughout first two years in Fayetteville.
He played in three games and a total of 52 snaps as a true freshman, and finished with 3 catches for 15 yards.
Henry then caught his first college touchdown in 2020 on a 12-yard reception in the Razorbacks’ win over then-No. 16 Mississippi State.
But more injuries kept him from getting on the field much during the season.
“There have been times when I have felt really down, where I am asking myself, ‘Why am I getting hurt? Why can’t I just play football?' But the thing that I have learned is I am not going to let my situation define me. I am not going to let things that happen to me harden me, soften me. I am going to use it to change my environment. I am going to use it to change the guys around me.
“If I get hurt, I am going to cheer my guys on, I am going to encourage them, pat them on the back when they do something good, help them when they do something wrong. I am going to be a coach, be somebody they can go to. I am not going to let my situation define me. I am not going to let injuries hinder me from being me.
“That is something that I have had to learn since I have been here. It took a while.”
Henry was a five-star prospect at one point and ended a four-star who chose Arkansas over Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan and many other programs.
As someone who caught 86 passes for 1,207 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior at Pulaski Academy and was the nation’s top-ranked tight end by ESPN, Henry has found the last two years of inactivity frustrating.
“It’s been a journey,” Henry said. “Last year, dealing with a lot of those injuries, it has just taught me toughness, just playing through stuff and a lot of those kind of things and has really helped me this offseason.
“Thankfully this spring I have not had any injuries, so I am feeling really good.”
Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Jamil Walker worked to fill out Henry's frame.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot bigger,” Henry said. “I’ve gained about five pounds. Coach Walker got us in the weight room this spring and he’s really been putting us to work on the squat rack. I think one big emphasis I wanted to work on was my lower body strength and that’s something that I was really able to develop a lot better.”
Henry has had several focuses for improvement since last season.
“I think just doing the minor things as a tight end: The footwork, the hand placement, the hat placement," he said. "How am I going to run my route? How am I going to shake this guy? That’s something I’ve really put an emphasis on in the offseason.
"That’s something that’s really carried over into the spring, is I’ve been able to play and practice, show off this spring what I’ve been training for.”
Hunter Henry signed a free agent contract with the Patriots recently after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Chargers.
“I’m more than thrilled for him and his wife, Parker,” Hudson Henry said. “I mean, Hunter has just been a huge role model for me, just not only in the game of football but just as a man. He’s shown me what it means to be a man and what it means to be a man of God. Just the way that he lives his life, the way that he goes about his business, the way that he works hard, it’s just so encouraging in me.
“And I just love him a lot. He’s just been really good to our family, and he’s been a good big brother, that’s for sure. I’m just really, really, really, really proud of him.”
Hudson Henry is also overjoyed to get to play one more season with Hayden, who decided to use another year granted to athletes by the NCAA because of the covid-19 pandemic.
“I almost cried,” Henry said. “I was just so happy getting to play with my brother. He had his mind made up that he was just going to work on his MBA, just go to school and get a job, but I got a call one night and he told me he was coming back.
"I was just so happy."
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