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October 25, 2012
The legacy Derrick Henry will leave when he finishes his career will be etched into the lore of high school football.
Henry is on the verge of breaking the national rushing record held by Sugarland (Texas) running back Ken Hall for more than 60 years.
At 6-foot-3, 245-pounds, he runs a consistent 4.4 40-yard dash to go with a 40-inch vertical leap.
He possesses a rare size-to-speed ratio for the high school, college, or pro level. The four-star athlete isn't just a workout warrior, his body of work speaks for itself.
He has amassed 10,458 yards rushing as of last week.
On Friday night, he looks to get one step closer to Hall's record of 11,232 yards when his team takes on Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian and fellow U.S. Army All-American Nick Washington.
So when did Henry know he would be this good?
"It was after my last game of my freshman year. Someone from Rivals.com came up to me and asked for an interview," he said. "My coach pulled me into his room and told me things are going to change now."
Things certainly changed when he finished his freshman season with 2,465 yards and 26 touchdowns. The assault on would-be defenses looking to slow down the power running back would simply be, "we can't stop him, we can only hope to contain him."
Thursday capped another milestone when Henry received his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey from Sgt. First Class Jacob Canterbury.
"It means a lot to me to have a chance to play in this bowl game with guys like Adrian Peterson, DeSean Jackson, Tim Tebow, and Percy Harvin. This is always something I wanted to do and it's a big achievement for me," he said.
He couldn't have done it alone though. Yulee (Fla.) head coach Bobby Ramsay and his middle school coach J.T. Medley helped him along the way.
Henry praised the two, saying, "They've always given me good advice. Anytime I've visited a school they were with me or when I needed help with recruiting they've led me the right way."
With more than 50 offers, Henry chose Alabama last month and the decision came with some criticism as some recruiting experts thought it wasn't the right fit.
Anyone who knows him understands he relishes competition and he wasn't going to let depth chart factor into finding the right place for him.
"I don't worry about it. This is a humbling experience and I'm grateful to have an opportunity to commit to Alabama."
He will graduate early and head to Tuscaloosa shortly after his trip to Texas for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
For Henry this game is special. He has two cousins and an uncle that have served in the U.S. Army.
"I take it very seriously. There are men and women overseas fighting for my freedom and the rest of the players in the game. I'm going to spend time with them and enjoy the opportunity," he said.
By the time he arrives in San Antonio he may have the distinction as being the most decorated high school running back ever in addition to being an Army All-American.