From Pulaski Academy to Arkansas to San Diego.
That's the path that tight end Hunter Henry took to get to the NFL and he had his dream realized early Friday night when the Chargers drafted him with the 35th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
"It’s unbelievable," Henry said in a teleconference a couple of hours after the draft. "It’s a lifelong dream coming true and nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Being able to come to a great organization like the Chargers; I can’t wait. I have all my family and friends here, so to celebrate with them is awesome."
Henry (6-5, 250) was the top-rated college tight end on most scouts' draft board in part because 93 of his 116 career receptions went for either first downs or a touchdown.
"It was up in the air if I would go in the first round," Henry said. " I knew God had a plan for me wherever I landed. I did everything I could do throughout this whole process, but it’s so up in the air. But there is absolutely no disappointment not going in the first round.
"I’m so pumped to go where I’m at and come to San Diego. To be a Charger is such a blessing and I’m so humbled. I get to go to a great city and a great organization, and be a part of it. All my hard work has paid off for this moment, so I can’t wait to get out there and continue to work hard for the Chargers."
Henry is excited about being mentored by current San Diego tight end Antonio Gates.
"I loved watching Antonio Gates growing up," Henry said. "Now to be able to go play with a Hall of Fame tight end like that, it’s an honor. I can’t wait to get there and learn from what he does, and what makes him so good."
He'll also have the chance to catch passes from established Chargers' quarterback Phillip Rivers.
"I get to play with a Hall of Fame QB in Phillip Rivers," Henry said. "To play with two Hall of Fame guys with him and Antonio Gates is humbling. It’s unbelievable. I’m so humbled and honored to play with two guys like that. They’ve accomplished so much in their time there, and it was always fun to watch those battles. I can’t wait to learn from those guys. I’m pumped."
Although criticized for his blocking by some scouts, Henry believes that he is strong in that area.
"I’m a guy who does both block and catch," Henry said. "I played in a true pro-style offense, so I had to put my head in there and block a bunch. But I also create mismatches in the passing game. I look forward to bringing that to the organization, and continuing to learn. I can’t wait to get out there."
He had no drops his final college season.
"Yeah, that is probably my best stat that I love," Henry said. "I pride myself on that, and I work on it continuously. It was really cool to be able to have that stat at the end of the year."
The Chargers have a couple of other Razorbacks on their roster.
Well there are two Arkansas guys I was teammates with, so I’m looking forward to seeing Javontee (Herndon) and Darius Philon," Henry said. "I’m looking forward to reconnecting with those guys."
Henry becomes the first of what could be as many as six Razorbacks taken in the three-day draft and says that the Chargers should expect a guy that is going to give his all.
"You’re going to get a guy who is going to come in and work hard," Henry said. "I can’t wait to get to San Diego and make an impact. I can’t wait to join all the guys and really get to work. I want to take this organization to a Super Bowl and win a Super Bowl."