What was without question a tumultous year for the Arkansas football program – and thus then-Razorback tight end commit Hunter Henry – ended in December with a perfect match when new head coach Bret Bielema.
Henry (6-6, 245), the Pulaski Academy standout and Parade All-American could have gone anywhere he wanted, but chose to stay in-state and play for a head coach that has five tight ends he coached currently on an NFL roster.
"I am so thankful that I made this decision to come here because I couldn't be in a better situation with Coach B," Henry said. "Our offense is very tight end useful and we have a lot of tight ends that are really good. We are a cohesive position and we are going to be able to contribute this season because each one of us has different skill sets that we can bring to the table."
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema believes that he has landed a special tight end in Henry, who caught 64 passes for 1,449 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
"He is a guy that has got to be in our gameplan," Bielema said. "He is really gifted and the greatest thing about Hunter Henry is that he is only beginning to scratch the surface. He is an incredibly intelligent young man that has the sky in front of him and the sky is the limit."
Razorback tight end coach Barry Lunney, Jr., feels like he is very blessed to have Henry on board and has found out he is more than just a receiving threat.
"We have been really pleased with Hunter and that is probably an understatement," Lunney said. "You always want to temper expectations on an incoming player...He comes across as this nice All-American kid and then you get him on the field, he just gets after it. We have been just really pleased.
"He has exceeded our expectations in what he has brought to the run game," Lunney added. "We knew he would probably be a pretty adequate receiver and be able to catch the ball and do those things because they come so naturally to him in the receiving game, but he has really embraced the running part and that is really just going to help expedite his opportunities to get on the field."
Henry is one of seven tight ends – along with redshirt senior Austin Tate (6-6, 259), sophomore Mitchell Loewen (6-4, 271), redshirt freshmen Jeremy Sprinkle (6-6, 235) and Demetrius Dean (6-3, 270) and redshirt sophomore Alex Voelzke (6-6, 250) - that are competing for time.
Lunney and Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney are defining a role for each of them.
"Our of the unique things about our room is they all kind of bring a different dynamic," Lunney said. "They are all different characters and have different personalities, different strengths and different weaknesses. Coach Chaney has done a great job of identifying what those are and starting to move forward as we move toward game week coming up."
Henry realized the big difference in high school and college last Saturday when he was forced to block Arkansas defensive ends Trey Flowers and Chris Smith.
"I had to come off the ball against them the first time and they put a pop on me and I was like 'well, we're here now, got to get going,'" Henry said.
He also has learn there is far more classroom time than one would expect.
"It is definitely tough mentally first, just getting into the meetings and getting in there and trying to learn," Henry said. "You have to get everything down and then try to translate that to the field. It takes a lot more work than you can see from the outside. It's been fun, it's been difficult at times. There have been ups and there have been downs, but I think steadily we have all gotten better."
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Arkansas On Game Days | Tailgate TravelsAs much fun as it is being at an Arkansas football game, the pregame can be just as enjoyable, especially if you have an RV. Head out to Fayetteville to see what makes the…
Scout CFBFriday at 9:20 AM
Cats Picked To Win SEC CrownThe voters at SEC Media Days are convinced: Kentucky has reloaded.
Scout 2017 Rankings DirectoryThe Scout positional, state, regional, national and team rankings for the Class of 2017...
Scout FootballMonday at 7:00 AM
"They Are Playing Really Good Football"Arkansas Coaches Bret Bielema and Dan Enos talk about facing Auburn this weekend and the challenges that presents for the Razorbacks.
Inside The AU Tigers10/19/2016