Inside the Class of '06: James Henry

The 16th in a daily series of 25 interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '06: Signee James Henry.

James Henry
Defensive Back
Schertz Clemens High School
NR (at S): 17 SR: 46 Star Rating: ****

An Inside Texas conversation with Schertz Clemens head coach Greg Ferrara on James Henry:

IT: What are James' strengths as a football player?

Ferrara: No. 1, James has a knack for the game of football. His speed and size are unbelievable. His quickness. And just, ya know, he's got some intangibles about playing the game of football. Going for the ball when he's on defense, great moves, his shiftiness carrying the football when he was on offense. I think he's still untapped for his potential. I think he can get better and better at the next level.

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

Ferrara: I think they saw an athlete, No. 1. He's an athlete, he runs track, he's gone to the AAU Olympics for the last two or three years, and he's a quality athlete and I think that's what they're looking for. As a sophomore, we went to the semi-finals and got beat by Katy and he was a free safety and a strong safety, and he made plays all over the field as a sophomore. Then we put him at tailback the last two years and he had great years carrying the ball. Then when we needed him on defense, we put him in on defense and that's how he got hurt this year. Some kid came and cracked him right there on the ankle and that's how he got hurt.

IT: What are the details of his injury?

Ferrara: Small, non weight-bearing bone, and he broke that. Right now he's running track, he goes to therapy every day, and he's getting stronger and better every day right now.

IT: What do you look for him to work on between now and when he leaves for Austin in June?

Ferrara: No. 1 is strength. Him being a track guy, he's got to get his upper body strength. Coach Madden has sent down a weight workout for him. That's probably one of the biggest changes James is going to see. Strength and conditioning is going to be so much different from the high school where I've got 'em for 55 minutes during the athletic period during the off-season to where they can come in and the coaches work with them on strength and conditioning and that's where I think he's going to get bigger, faster and stronger.

IT: What are his current measurables?

Ferrara: He's about 6-2 1/2, maybe 6-3. I think he's growing still. He's about 205-210.

IT: Does he have the frame to add strength and weight?

Ferrara: He's going to be a lot stronger young man. He's a sprinter here in track and they'll mold him into a pretty good athlete, better than what we can do. They've got a few more tools. [Laughs]

IT: He was a multi-position guy for you...

Ferrara: He ran back punts, kickoffs, played tailback and in the secondary.

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

Ferrara: When coach Brown was here about a month ago, came by with coach Akina, they talked about that's the kind of player he is. He can play receiver, he can play at corner, he can play at strong or free safety, he can play at running back. Wasn't ol' Ramonce Taylor a receiver then he came back to play running back? I think with James' versatility, he can do a lot of things.

IT: How did you guys use him on the offensive side of the ball?

Ferrara: He was our go-to guy. He got a little frustrated early in the year, we played a couple of good teams. One we played Waco High, which always turns out a lot of good athletes -- ya know Derrick Johnson is from there, and they send a lot of kids to Texas and Oklahoma and throughout the nation -- and they keyed on him and he got 90 yards rushing. The next week we played San Antonio Roosevelt and they keyed on him and he broke a couple of long runs, we threw the ball to him, he ran back a couple of punts and when we needed someone on a stop when we were ahead in games vs. a throwing team we'd put him in the secondary.

IT: Did he mainly work for you guys on the offensive side of the ball?

Ferrara: For the last two years, he was our go-to guy.

IT: On defense, you plugged him in...

Ferrara: Anywhere I needed him... When we needed him at safety or at nickel back, free safety, we just let him run to the football because that's what he's good at, running to the football.

IT: How would you describe his running style?

Ferrara: He's a strong, powerful runner that has breakaway speed. That's what's deceiving. He's so big, but he's got breakaway speed.

IT: Was James a leader for you guys, and if so, how did he lead?

Ferrara: Let me tell you what happened. When James got hurt, we were 8-0. A lot of kids in today's society -- and this is what I talked to coach Brown about and coach Akina -- a lot of kids would have never came to workouts. He was here every workout, he talked to kids, cheered them on, praised them, talked to some of the kids who were taking his place, spoke to the kids before the game one time and then at halftime and rallying around and stuff. Today in our society, we've got kids worried about themselves, "I" and "me", he's not that type of person. He's a team player.

IT: Given the fact that he's a multi-threat athlete, can you talk about his football IQ coming into Texas and possibly having to be prepared to play several different positions?

Ferrara: I think he's able to do that because we were able to do that now. That's a higher level and I think that's one thing he's going to have to be ready for because that move up from high school to college, especially at The University of Texas. It will be a little bit harder for him to adjust. Can he adjust to it? Yes, he can, but it's going to be a learning experience for him, too.

IT: What did James mean to your football program?

Ferrara: When you talk about Clemens football for the last three years, they said, Wow, good athletes. He's a game-breaker, he was the go-to guy and he will be sorely missed.

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

Ferrara: When I think about James, and we laugh about it all the time, when he was about nine years old, in my younger days, me and a couple of the coaches were lifting weights about 7 o'clock at night with a couple of our athletes, in April or May, and his mother used to walk the track and he'd come in here and play on the weight equipment. We had a leg machine, and all of a sudden I finish lifting, and James has all the weight -- about 400 pounds -- on this leg machine and he thought he could lift it. [Laughing] We had to get three coaches to push those weights up. All I thought was, Oh my God, this kid is going to get crushed to death. We laugh about it, but he's always hung around the field house. Instead of a gym rat, he was a field house rat. That's how I remember him.

IT: Is that indicative of his work ethic?

Ferrara: Oh yes, he's always around, he's always trying to make himself better. Athletics was very much a part of his life.

UT's Signing Day bio: A two-time all-state pick and a three-year letterman who selected to the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … rushed for 3,587 yards and 46 TDs on 357 carries (10.0 ypc) over his final two seasons … named first-team 5A all-state by The Associated Press and the Texas Sports Writers Association as a senior … tabbed offensive MVP of district 25-5A … earned first-team all-district and all-region honors as well … named Greater San Antonio MVP … named Dave Campbell's Super Team second team on defense in the preseason … rushed for 1,747 yards and 22 TDs on 179 carries (9.8 ypc) in 2005 … also had eight receptions for 142 yards and two TDs … had two 200-yard rushing games as a senior … rushed for 270 yards and six TDs versus Highlands … also rushed for 218 yards and two TDs on 16 carries versus Austin … helped Clemens to a 10-1 record in 2005 … named second-team all-state as a junior … rushed for 1,840 yards and 24 TDs on 178 carries (10.3 ypc) … earned 2003 San Antonio Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore … was also an all-district defensive back … rushed for 800 yards to go along with four INTs … also a four-year letterman in track and field … competed in the 100m, 200m, relays and long jump … assisted with local Katrina victims as a prepster … participated in the PALs program … assisted on youth camping trips and helped feed the homeless through his church … enjoys playing video games … full name is James Anthony Henry … born on Nov. 7, 1987 in Denver … has also lived in Converse, Texas (ages 2-9).

"It's close to home, and when I went down there, it felt like a family. Everyone was so nice, and I'm familiar with Austin."


Photos courtesy of Milton Trent/ Samuel Clemens All Sports Booster Club

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