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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Henry soaks up the attention at Arizona’s pro day

    Chris Henry
    Chris Henry

    After dominating the NFL Combine with sheer athleticism, UA running back Chris Henry was the prettiest girl at the dance Saturday during Arizona’s annual pro day festivities.

    At least that’s how Josh Luchs, one of Henry’s agents, saw it as NFL scouts lined up one-by-one to speak with Henry on the Jimenez Practice Facility after pro day, in which Henry participated in football-related activities but only watched the speed and strength drills.

    After all, there wasn’t much more Henry could do in the weight room after running a 4.40 40-yard dash and benching 225 pounds 26 times, both second among running backs, while also tying for first in the broad jump, taking second in the long shutting and placing third in the short shuttle at the Combine in late February in Indianapolis.

    “”I know I’m an extraordinary athlete. I know I have great ability, and I just went into there confident and went in there wanting to compete,”” Henry said of his mindset going into the Combine. “”I thrive off of competition, that’s what I love to do, so I went in there, and it was a great atmosphere, and I competed and we all had fun with it, everyone was real cool.””

    Now the chiseled Henry, who spoke with representatives from the Falcons and Cowboys at length Saturday, may have launched up NFL teams’ draft boards, as about 45 scouts attended Arizona’s pro day, according to UA strength coach Corey Edmond, the most since UA head coach Mike Stoops took over three years ago. Arizona and Ohio State were the only schools to schedule pro day Saturday, allowing the high number of scouts to attend.

    Although Henry rushed for just 892 yards in college on an average of 3.32 yards per carry, including 581 on 3.52 ypg last season, the 5-foot-11, 228-pound back never considered it a risk to enter the draft despite having a year of eligibility left and incoming offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes’ explosive offense at his disposal.

    “”I considered it definitely a good decision, and any decision I would have made I would have went for head down and running, and that’s definitely what I did,”” Henry said. “”I feel like it was the best decision. I don’t really look back on things and say, ‘Oh, I wonder if I would have done it this way.’ Once you make a decision you’ve got to live with it.””

    Ironically Henry said the biggest thing scouts wanted to see was if he could catch the ball, as well if he could make good reads and precise cuts, exactly what he would have been able to showcase in a full season with Dykes.

    “”They want to see how explosive you are,”” Henry said. “”They want to see your route-running ability at wide receiver.””

    As for the players who participated in the weight room drills, senior safety Michael Johnson may have made the biggest impact. Johnson set a personal best with a 4.53 40-yard dash time, after which he said he felt good.

    “”I knew I was going to come out and work hard and give it what I had and try to impress these coaches here,”” Johnson said.

    Still Edmond expects Johnson to be able to run faster because he has not been able to work on “”a lot of explosive stuff”” due to a hamstring injury that caused him to miss Arizona’s final two games. As a testament to his speed, Edmond mentioned how Johnson nearly ran down Cal receiver DeSean Jackson this past year after he broke free into the secondary and how he caught former USC running back Reggie Bush the year before.

    “”Mike’s a beast,”” Henry said. “”Mike’s going to make it happen, he’s a great football players, one of the very best safeties I’ve ever seen if not the best. He’s an amazing football player.””

    Johnson, who compared the pro day experience to a job interview, said the scouts have asked him if he’d play any position in the secondary, making a switch to cornerback possible.

    “”Of course I said yes,”” he said. “”I’ll play whatever they want me to play.””

    UA seniors Syndric Steptoe, Nick Folk and Marcus Smith also participated in the festivities in hopes of getting drafted.

    Steptoe ran a 4.53 in the 40 but struggled to correctly do the short shuttle before finishing with an unofficial time of 4.11 seconds, a result UA associate head coach Dana Dimel thinks he can improve.

    Folk only did the bench press during the strength and speed drills, putting up 14 reps, and then kicked field goals with a scout from Baltimore looking on.

    In the broad jump, in which players jump straight forward from a crouch, Smith jumped 10 feet, six inches, tops on the day. However, he hurt his hamstring running a 4.86 40-yard dash and thus did not run a second time before pounding out 24 reps on the bench press, best of the day.

    But even without running or lifting the buzz was about Henry, who along with Johnson seems poised to become the highest Arizona players drafted since linebacker Lance Briggs and receiver Bobby Wade were picked in the 3rd and 5th rounds, respectively, by Chicago in 2003.

    As Henry tries to work his way into a first-day pick, he may be helped most by those who doubt him because of his mediocre numbers at Arizona more so than those who believe in him because of his uncanny combination of strength and speed.

    “”People are so negative, and it’s just funny to me because throughout this whole process you see people who were first saying, ‘Oh, he shouldn’t have even got invited to the Combine. He’s not going to do this, he’s not going to do that,'”” Henry said. “”I love it man, I eat it up, I eat it up, I love that kind of stuff. I remember that kind of stuff.

    “”I use it as fuel when I work out, so keep it coming.””

    Mr. Franchise

    Briggs, now a Pro Bowl linebacker, attended the event along with Wade (Minnesota) and former Wildcat Copeland Bryan (Chicago). Briggs has publicly voiced his displeasure over being named the Bears’ franchise player and wants out of Chicago but declined comment on his situation. However, while taping a spot for FSN Arizona, he jokingly referred to himself as Lance Briggs of the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers on consecutive outtakes.

    Extra Points

    Safety Marcus Hollingsworth and quarterback Adam Austin, both seniors last year, also worked out, along with former players Brandon Phillips (offensive lineman), Sean Jones (fullback) and Kirk Johnson (linebacker). … The drills consisted of the high jump, broad jump, 40-yard dash (timed every 10 yards), short shuttle, three-cone drill and bench press. … Mike Stoops was not in attendance after undergoing surgery for a bulging disk in his back, but defensive coordinator Mark Stoops joined Dykes and Dimel at the event. … A number of UA underclassmen attended, including cornerback Antoine Cason wearing a throwback Isiah Thomas jersey. … Edmond said Arizona will continue to hold pro day on Saturdays in the future.

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