Henry a massive 2013 prospect

Spectators watch Derrick Henry's vertical leap at the Nike combine in Orlando in March. (Photo submitted by Derrick Henry) Check out the photo gallery below.

Derrick Henry is a massive prospect.

As in 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, but also as in one of the best early recruits in the Class of 2013.

The rising junior running back out of Yulee, Fla., is a freakish athlete who set the nation’s top Nike SPARQ Rating (123.09) this March in Orlando with a 4.53-second 40 and a 38.5-inch vertical.

Henry held the nation’s top spot for a week before being topped by Nashville, Tenn., receiver Justin Batey. But Henry is the only junior in the Nike SPARQ top 20.

Many scouts and analysts look at his size and athleticism and see a future linebacker or defensive end. But Henry is determined to stick at running back and has 5,263 rushing yards and 65 touchdowns in two seasons to his credit.

“I’m just staying focused on running back,” he said at the Nike camp in Tallahassee in April. “That’s why I come to these camps and learn more. Being a big back, you get coaching. They tell me to keep my hips low, be crisp on my routes, work on pass protection. In college, pass protection is a big deal.”

Apparently, college coaching staffs see Henry as a running back, too. He already has over 50 offers.

Florida, Georgia, Florida State, Alabama and South Carolina are showing the most interest, he said, and the feeling is mutual. Henry lists those schools as his t0p five and speaks with enthusiasm about each.

But one school stands above the rest.

“I’m a Florida fan,” he said,”and they’ve got that new pro-style offense.”

Henry, who watched UF’s spring game on TV, was overjoyed when he saw the Gators bring in Charlie Weis and a new offense that was better suited for his talents.

“I felt ecstatic,” he said. “I said, ‘Whoa, Florida is back! Big backs are coming!’ They picked up Matt Jones, so that’s a big plus. We both could be there. Then I read articles about the running backs saying they liked the new pro-style offense. Chris Rainey said he liked it, he could see more. So that was really good.”

He has seen a lot growing up a Gator. From Steve Spurrier to Ron Zook to Urban Meyer, the new coach staff under Will Muschamp now has Henry extremely excited.

“When they won the national championship with Fred Taylor and all those guys, and just seeing how the Gator Nation has come so far,” he said. “From Urban Meyer picking it back up to going to the pro-style offense. You never know what could happen now.

“I’ve got faith in my team and always will have faith in the Gator Nation.”

[youtube Qz-UFmTIJRM 590]


  1. That’s a huge kid for his age. Hope he’s able to realize his dream of playing RB, but if he grows a few more inches I can’t see him making it at that position. I’ve never heard of a 6-5 RB.
    Best of luck, young man and hope to see you wearing the Orange and Blue one day.
    Go Gators!

  2. atl john- that is the point I was going to make! For full disclose I was my adult height at 14, a meager 5’10.” But, 6’3″ at 15-16? Kid could easily be 6’5″ by the end of this summer or this football season. I hope he is prepared to deal with that possibility, but at Florida the coaches will be out there “Coachin him up if he commits.”
    Lets also keep in mind, there are two seasons of footbal before this kid signs his LOI. Anything can happen before then… Good luck Derrick!

  3. Wow…he’s a big kid who most definately grow another inch or two. His film doesn’t really show elite ability at tailback. I definately would love to see him in orange and blue, I just don’t think he’ll play D1 ball at running back…. he’ll have ideal size with tremendous speed as a DE.

  4. I won’t disagree that Derrick can still grow, but to say that a tall RB can’t be productive, I believe, isn’t necessarily the case. Brandon Jacobs is a monster for the Giants at 6’4″, 260ish lbs, Michael Bush of the Raiders is 6’1″, Jim Brown was 6’2″, OJ is 6’2″, Eric Dickerson is 6’3″, Eddie George is 6’3″, and I’m sure there are more. I have his YouTube video loading right now, I just hope that he isn’t as stiff as most big men tend to be, hopefully he’s got some good hip movement, and maybe a wiggle or two. lol (He might be too young for a wiggle, I hope Dateline doesn’t trace my IP)

  5. I’ve heard a lot of stuff about this kid since his sophomore year. He’s the real deal. I’ve heard people compare him to Fred Taylor, Maurice Clarett, and even Herschel Walker. Glad he’s a Gator fan, because I certainly don;t want this kid going to a team that we play every year. Can you imagine him and Kelvin Taylor in the same class?

  6. you got that right Dave ! that o-line is making space big enough for a Mack truck….and how about the field vision this kid has? and when he’s turning the corner it sure looks like he’s faster than a 4.53! I remember Jarvis Williams being clocked slow in the 40 , but when that cat took the field, he outran most everyone out there.. and punished them when he got there ! ! !
    (thanks for the memories Jarvis ,may you rest in peace)

  7. Derrick Henry, keep working hard, stay away from drugs and “bad” friends, keep your grades up and you will have a great shot at a life most people only dream of. I wish you all the best and want to say welcome to the GATORS! Its never too early to learn to be a leader and to lead by example…GO GATORS!!!

  8. Cam Newton was one of the best running backs all of last year and he is what 6’5″? Just sayin. Very happy to see a kid so stoked to be a Gator. Hope he commits early and gets in the ears of other kids.

    I agree this kid and Taylor would be the Matt Jones and Mike Davis of the 2012 class. Each year some Thunder and Lightening! When the other team get tired of being smacked and dragged by fresh big guys like this then you have to contend with big athletic QBs like Driskel and Brissett? Good night and Good Luck Defense!

  9. His speed is tremendous and he’s definitely suited for defense… He would dominate on that side of the ball and he’ll realize that as he continues to grow. His talent at RB is that he outruns everyone… imagine what he could do on the defensive side?? His offensive line is great as well.. Definitely a well coached team (offensive line) which should help his transition to college ball.

  10. Derrick, You will be a great back at Florida , no doubt, but be yourself , not like camwho or others !! FACT, the lifetime rushing leader stared in the SWAMP AND ON TO bIG- D !! See yourself running onto Florida Field in front of 95000 loving fans !! see you there !!

  11. First things first. There is no such thing as a “Gator Fan” — there are only “Gators”.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed. 2013 is a long way off and you can believe every coach in the SEC has their sights on this young man.

    At the end of the day we’ll know if he’s a Gator or not!

  12. To all those who question whether a young man his size could play RB. How did the NFL Giants do a few years back with a big 6’4″ power back named Brandon Jacobs? I think that result was a Super Bowl win over the undefeated Pats… So come on down kid, the Gator Nation is already in love with ya!

  13. There was a whole lot of bad tackling goin’ on in those clips. Didn’t see a lot of power running. How are we supposed to get excited about a big, fast runner that goes down when he does get hit?

  14. this kid has great size,but he is 18 almost 19 years old,and may get bigger,but not too big to be a running back.I myself thought wow this kid is doing this at such a young age but found out his age while seeing him play.May be some academic issues to deal with,but it would be well worth it.

  15. He refers to the Gators as “my team.” That’s encouraging, but we’ll see; it’s early, and recruiting can be like bizarro-world!
    As for his vertical,… WOW!
    PS: Speaking of running back recruits, anyone know why Blakely left UF???

  16. First of all, he is NOT 18, almost 19 years old. Instigator, you were given incorrect information. He does not have any academic issues… all A’s and B’s on his report card. Go Gators!!

  17. 1974gator; If you watch him in person, you too, will be excited. He didn’t set the national SPARQ rating by being average. Come on down to Yulee (not far from Gainesville), watch him practice and I’ll buy you a beer or two.

  18. He’s bigger then most all of the teams he’s playing against. He’s a long strider, not a quick and shifty sort. I think he’ll get eaten up in college. The competition he’s playing looks pretty bad, size wise and effort wise. A majority of the defensive players aren’t giving much effort to tackle him and the majority of them are smaller then him also, including the defensive lines. Can’t tell how good he might be from that video.

  19. Lets hope he truly comes to Florida. Our other ” gators fans” remember Greg Reid is wearing garrent and gold. So hopefully he doesn’t make the same mistake like Greg Reid and go play for the enemy. I hope he does come play for the gators him and Freddie T’s kid. Go Gators. Will knows how to will them in. Hopefully he gets them both.

  20. Not impressed at the SEC level as a RB. Would want him at UF as a guy on the edge defensively. OLB or DE, whichever his body grows into. That is where he has a chance to earn paychecks after college.

  21. sorry jeff, i am talking about Jarvis williams as most gators will remember played under galen hall. he came from palatka high, started a whopping 45 straight games…. a team mate of john l williams in high school & college.
    still recall that crushing hit in miami’s melvin bratton that left him seeing birdies for a while… his son, jarvis williams jr. is one heck of a running back at j.u. under gator great Kerwin Bell…are you starting to get it jeff?


  22. The people that are talking about the film do realize that the film they are watching is from 1 full game, 1 half of a game, and 1qtr of another. This isn’t a whole season highlight but not even 2 games worth. If you saw him his full season highlight your mouth would drop. Also he’s really got in the weightroom this offseason so look for some more power running.