What drives Alabama RB Derrick Henry? An 'I've got to stay hungry' attitude, former coach says
Tuscaloose, Alabama - Bobby Ramsay watched from a short distance as the greatest player he'd ever coach couldn't keep his balance.
The Yulee (Fla.) High School coach knew he had a superstar-in-the-making when Derrick Henry joined his team as a 205-pound ninth grader, but there was work to do. Henry was already a physical specimen, but his ability to stop at an exact point and change direction while maintaining his speed was a mess.
He was 14 years old, after all.
Back, forth and plop Henry went during his first attempts at the shuttle run – a conditioning drill that has a runner sprint 5 yards, stop, sprint 10 yards in the other direction, stop and finish with another 5-yard sprint in the opposite direction. By the end of the day, Henry's falls during the drill had created a 5-yard swath of matted grass.
"He couldn't touch the ground and change direction," Ramsay said. "Then you look two years later, he's good enough to compete with the best kids as a junior. When he's not good at something, he's going to attack it."
During the summer before his senior year, just a couple months before he committed to Alabama, Henry finished first overall in the SPARQ Combine test, which tallies a player's results in a number of agility and strength drills into one score. Henry's shuttle time of 4.12 seconds was eighth out of 95 participants.
The stakes and goals have changed as Henry enters his highly anticipated sophomore season at Alabama, but the mentality hasn't.
Fast forward two years from his SPARQ triumph, as Henry stood before a group of reporters after a sweltering afternoon practice. Asked if he felt like he arrived when he ran for 100 yards and caught a 61-yard touchdown pass in Alabama's Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, Henry made his old coach proud.
"I feel like I still got a lot to prove. I'd say I have a lot to prove," Henry said. "I don't see I've done anything that makes me feel like I've arrived or anything like that. I let my play speak for itself. I just feel like I still got a lot more to prove."