- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Before the season, Yulee High School head coach Bobby Ramsay never imagined his star running back Derrick Henry would come close to breaking the national rushing record. He thought maybe top five but not the top spot.
After rushing for 455 yards and five touchdowns last week, Henry is just 775 yards away from the record with two regular-season games still to play and at least one playoff game.
“To be at a point where he’s under 800 yards of the national record, it’s really not something we talk about a whole lot,” Ramsay said. “But, it’s kind of like the elephant in the room. None of us are idiots. We can all count.”
Henry has been putting up ridiculous statistics this season. The ESPN 150 star rushed for 363 yards and six touchdowns against Glades Day in a game televised by ESPNU. He nearly broke the state’s single-game rushing record with 455 yards last Friday, a record he had set three weeks earlier with 502 yards.
“Last week was one of those games where you can tell early on that they’re not going to stop him,” Ramsay said. “He was in the zone.”
In September, Henry committed to the University of Alabama and put his recruitment behind him. His coach believes the commitment is one of the main reasons for the success he’s having on the field this year.
“I think he’s at a good place right now,” Ramsay said. “Academically, everything is taken care of. With the commitment being over with and the recruiting being over with, I think he’s finally, for the first time in a while, getting to enjoy playing and being with his friends.”
Despite the gaudy numbers, there are still those out there that think Henry can’t play running back at the next level because of his size (6-foot-3, 243 pounds). With that in mind, it’s been his mission to prove the critics wrong, and the naysayers only add extra motivation.
His coach doesn’t understand how people honestly believe that Henry can’t be a running back in college.
“It’s hard for me to think a guy could be so productive, but there’s no way he can play that position at the next level,” Ramsay said. “That just doesn’t make sense to me. I know Alabama’s excited about him playing running back.”
Henry is expected to visit Alabama next month when the Crimson Tide host Texas A&M. Fellow UA commitment DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) and five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) are also planning to make the trip.
This Friday, Yulee plays at Trinity Christian, and all eyes will be on Henry as he inches closer to the national record.
2dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon