Inside the Class of '05: Henry Melton

The 10th in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '05: Signee Henry Melton.

Henry Melton
Running Back
Grapevine HS
6-3/270/4.65
NR: 21 (at DE) SR: 17 Star Rating: ****

An Inside Texas conversation with Grapevine head coach Gary Mullins on Henry Melton:

IT: What are Henry's strengths as a football player?

Mullins: Henry has continued to get better ever since the seventh or eighth grade. He's always stuck out as far as his size. He was probably 220-225, about 6-2 as a seventh/eighth grader and he has developed every year into a better athlete in his skills and his body type. He's up to 6-4, 270 right now but for an athlete like Henry, he possesses a lot of different attributes that you'd get in really outstanding athletes but as a combination because he has the power. His bench is probably 350, his power clean is right at 300, he squats over 500, he's got a vertical of 35 and he's fast. He's run a 4.5. You roll that all in there and that's pretty unusual. People say he's too big to be a running back, but that's what he's done for a long time, played on both sides at some point in time, but Henry every year has developed. He came to us as probably a straight-line, power runner but as he's developed his stride and worked on his feet, he has the elusiveness and the ability to make cuts like you'd have a smaller back do. The things you see a guy do, a jump stop or a jump redirect and accelerate, and things that you see him do from a running back position where he has good vision, where he's able to come back door and sees it and he has the ability to get there, it's not just straight-line agility-wise. So he possesses that kind of thing in a big body and he wears you down. He's got great hands. I mean he probably could be a great tight end. We used him in our no-back set where he was our No. 2 receiver and just throw the ball to him.

IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Henry?

Mullins: All of the above, but I've been in college football before and it's seeing a kid that can do all of those things at his size and really have a young man in that mature body that can do several things and have the ability to do them well. He's got a great first step as a defensive lineman edge rusher. Of course he's got the wing span for it. And then the running part of it, and then tight end-wise, that would be it. Probably the one thing Henry would be less really good at is his pass pro, his pass block, only because of his size. He feels like he's lacking the technique to be a dominant-type blocker when he pass pros because he is so big, but that's just some work and something that's obviously attainable. That's the only thing I can think of.

IT: What do you expect Henry to work on in the period before he heads to Austin?

Mullins: I think it's not anything different than we've tried to instill in our program here, it's athleticism. The more athleticism you have, regardless if your football, baseball, I don't care what it is, it's improve on athleticism, so Henry's gonna be consistently working on that part of it. His feet, obviously his weight training and I'm sure that he's going to try to work on his weight where he'll be a good prospect at running back because I know that's what he wants to do when he gets to college, so he may taper his weight from 270 to 260 or whatever that magic number is that coach Brown would like him to be.

IT: Is Henry a leader, and if so, how does he lead?

Mullins: Henry's more of a demonstrater. He's not a hoo-rah guy. I think his is more inside of him than exterior all the time. I think he's a confident guy in himself and his ability. I know this, if it's on the line, I know he'd like the ball to be the impact guy.

IT: What did Henry mean to your football program?

Mullins: He impacted the team obviously with his ability and I think his relationship, his charisma. Henry is well thought of with his peers... He gets along well with his peers, and not just the football team, in general with the student body and I think what he's done with the team, when you have somebody like that, impacting the opponents that you play before you ever play them. They want to know if he's playing. 'How is he?' Then when they see him, they see him in person with his pads on, they really can't believe he's the guy that's the running back. Warming up, there's a lot of guys turning and looking, and in their minds, I know what they're saying: 'He's big! And he's got running ability.' So he draws a lot of attention.

IT: What positions did he play for you guys?

Mullins: Henry played running back, he played some receiver in our no-back sets. He was the No. 2 receiver; he's done that for several years in our seven-on-seven, he was always involved in the slot. He's got great hands. Obviously he's got running ability but he's got soft hands and he's played some defensive end, some edge play for us, outside backer. He does not play quarterback. He can't throw worth a lick. [Laughs]

IT: Everything but QB, right...

Mullins: Everything but... He's a lefty and he can't throw a lick from the left side, so that's one thing I told coach Brown, 'Don't put the pitch pass in.'

IT: Projecting forward, where do you see him playing on the Forty Acres?

Mullins: Henry will play anywhere. If you ask him what he would prefer, he wants to play running back. As long as he feels in his own mind about that opportunity and there's a plan and some goals -- obviously if you're at 280, you'd say we'd rather have you at 260. But he's lean. His body fat is probably 12 percent and that's low. You're talking about a body mass that's pretty bulked and he's continued to get bigger every year but he's really gone through a transition from last spring when that growth -- and I don't know if he's still growing, he was 250 but we thought he was more like 235 because he didn't look 250 even that time... After his junior year, we ran afterwards and tested 'em and he went out and ran 4.5 in one session but when we measured him he was 263. Later in the spring he was 265-268. 'You need to start maintaining somewhere in here,' but it wasn't extra, it was lean. So he's run the 4.5s before the weight but he didn't drop his speed with that big jump (in weight) in there.

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Henry's ability as a football player?

Mullins: Since he was in middle school, the impact when he stepped into this high school and the expectations were what he was going to be doing and how it was going to be. Ours was to prepare Henry for what it is right now and hopefully for what he's going to do because there's a lot of stuff left in this guy to be a lot better than what we ever saw here; to sorta filter him into the system where he felt comfortable. It would have been easy to say, OK freshman, move you up to varsity and try to manipulate through that, but I think as we took our time with him that first year and then let him get a feel for the system -- because he'd go into shock; I don't care how great a player you are you can do that to some -- and when he did that he just got better and better once he got comfortable with it and what he could do and where he could keep improving. The impact was when he got here. That was the impact he made, so we got him here finally at the high school and let's figure out our plan to get him involved as soon as we could.

IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about Henry that we didn't already cover?

Mullins: He's got a great mom. She's No. 1 in my book and has been for a long time. She's a great lady and I'm sure they've had debates over mom and sibling issues, but as a mom she's top notch. She's a great supporter and will be for The University and Henry. She's a strong lady. You like to see that... I think (UT) is going to be great for Henry because I think it's going to help him even go beyond because he's going to be with a group of people that athletically and focus-wise at The University of Texas, a great program, and there's great people around you and great human beings that are going to make a team. There's no better opportunity... I think it's going to be great for The University and for Henry too. I think it's going to be a great opportunity for both.

Note from Clendon: Melton was not much of a talker, but what he said was right to the point. Asked by Will what his strength as a player is, Melton said, "Just running over people."

UT Signing Day Bio: Four-year letterman and a second-team All-USA selection by USA Today in 2004 … an All-District pick as a running back … gained over 800 yards and scored eight TDs in his final year at Grapevine … gained 280 all-purpose yards, including 230 rushing, and scored two TDs against Denton Ryan … earned All-District (5-5A) honors as a junior while rushing for over 800 yards and 12 TDs … averaged 6.2 yards per carry in 2003 … rushed for over 200 yards and scored two TDs in a victory over Rockwall that year … also gained over 800 yards as a sophomore … lettered his freshman year and scored the game-winning TD in Grapevine's opening round playoff win over Azle … competed in track and field as a freshman, sophomore and junior and played baseball as a freshman … his uncle, Ray Crockett, was a two-time All-SWC pick at Baylor (1985-88) and played 14 years in the NFL with Detroit (1984-93), Denver (1994-2000) and Kansas City (2001-02) … he was co-captain for Denver's back-to-back championship teams in Super Bowls XXXVII and XXXVIII … lived in San Diego, Calif., and Japan as a child … born on Oct. 11, 1986, in Cedar Hill, Texas.

"First off, I enjoyed my visit there and Texas is a massive campus, which in my opinion, is a good thing. In talking to coach Brown, I realized that he was a really cool guy and he was genuine, which meant a lot to me."

*Photos by Will Gallagher/Inside Texas*

NEXT UP: ROY MILLER


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