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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Critics may have been right about Henry

    Mike Ritterassistant sports editor
    Mike Ritter
    assistant sports editor

    Rollin’ With Ritter

    He’s been known as a “”workout warrior”” ever since he first stepped into the McKale Center gym.

    Now we might know why.

    Current Titans running back and former Wildcat Chris Henry faces a four-game suspension from the NFL after testing positive for a banned substance – not believed to be performance-enhancing – that wasn’t banned a year ago. Henry took a prescription medication that contained a substance on the banned list.

    He could appeal the suspension, but either way, Henry won’t be playing much more this season.

    He started the season third on the depth chart behind Chris Brown and LenDale White. The past three weeks, Henry has been given considerable looks after injuries to both Brown and White kept them sidelined. In his first two weeks, he scored two touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards. But on Sunday, Henry had negative-three rush yards and 18 receiving yards.

    Now that both Brown and White are healthy, the suspension comes at a reasonable time for the Titans, but it puts a damper on Henry’s already weak football résumé.

    Henry left the Wildcat football team a season early – to much criticism from scouts and local media – to enter the NFL draft in April.

    After posting some of the most impressive numbers at the NFL Combine, the “”workout warrior”” surprised all his doubters by being selected 50th overall in the second round by Tennessee, the highest any UA player has been selected since 2000.

    Henry ran a 4.40 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times, both totals second among running backs, and had the highest broad jump of any tailback.

    Impressive numbers for sure, but Henry’s numbers on the field hardly showed that he was capable of carrying a lead role in the NFL, which coach Jeff Fisher suggested when his team drafted him.

    “”We had actually considered and discussed the possibility of taking him in thefirst round,”” Fisher said. “”We feel like Chris is an every-down back. He doesn’t have the stats, doesn’t have the numbers at the University of Arizona. We did the research and we’re satisfied why that happened, but we’re confident that he will have the stats and numbers at this level.””

    Now might be a good time to compare the offensive output of Henry last year and the production of Arizona’s current starting running back, freshman Nicolas Grigsby.

    In 11 games (six starts), Henry had 581 yards, seven touchdowns and a 3.5-yards-per-carry average.

    In Grigsby’s six starts, he has 629 yards on 33 fewer rush attempts, for a 4.8-yards-per-carry average and 26 more yards per game.

    And the Titans awarded Henry with a hefty four-year, $2.89 million contract; they even included a $1.23 million signing bonus.

    “”I’m a hell of a competitor, and I always rise to my competition and rise above it,”” Henry told me in May. “”I did it here, and I’m going to do it in the NFL.

    “”Teams don’t draft players who aren’t going to help you, point blank. I’ve been picked to an NFL team, so I really don’t care too much about what anybody said.””

    After 10 weeks of the NFL and NCAA seasons, one can hardly look back and fault Henry for leaving college early – he received decent money for an NFL rookie.

    But you’ve still got to wonder what’s going on inside his head.

    First, he makes the odd decision to leave college just before a newly installed offensive system at Arizona surely would have given him better numbers for an NFL prospect. Then, once he finally does something in the NFL, he gets caught.

    We may never know if Henry knew the substance he took was banned. Either way, his young NFL career is in shambles, and it seems like all the critics may have been right, after all.

    Mike Ritter is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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