Parker Henry fits with new-look WSU defense

PULLMAN — Parker Henry began his Cougar career as a walk on defensive back fighting to make the team. Now a fourth-year junior on scholarship, he's looking more and more comfortable this spring and at a new position.

Henry is now listed as a 5-10, 205-pound linebacker but hes making use of his DB roots. A new wrinkle from first-year DC Alex Grinch has been to incorporate more nickel packages this spring, subbing out the SAM for the extra defensive back. Henry has shown a knack there and has worked primarily at nickel. He’s been running primarily with the second-team defense behind Darius Lemora at the nickel but he’s made a lot of plays, and his effort and work ethic has caught the attention of Mike Leach.

Henry walked on at WSU in the fall of 2012 after earning All-State honors at running back and all-league recognition at linebacker at Skyview High in Vancouver, Wash. He redshirted in 2012, appeared in seven games, mainly on special teams, in 2013 and another 11 in 2014, also mostly on special teams. He was awarded a scholarship at the end of last season.

CF.C caught up with Henry to discuss his reaction to receiving a scholarship and more. What was your first reaction when you found out you earned a scholarship?
Henry: “I was pretty much just overjoyed. I was just happy. It’s been a childhood dream. You know, most kids growing up playing football don’t get a chance to play (Division I) football. At first, I called my parents just to tell them. I think they were more happy than I was.”

CF.C: Why did you decide to walk on?
Henry: “I’d say Coach Leach had a big thing to do with it. Growing up I was able to watch a lot of Texas Tech games because they were always on, on Saturdays, and I just figured he’s going to have a whole program. The old special teams coach, (Eric Russell) contacted me and was recruiting in my area, and he gave me the opportunity, but I’d say Coach Leach had the biggest thing to do with it.”

CF.C: You played cornerback in high school. What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make playing more up in the box?
Henry: “The guys. In high school, the linemen are probably six-foot. At least, where I’m from they’re six-foot, 250 pounds. Up here, it’s 6-foot-6 and they’re the biggest guys you’ve ever seen. I remember the first couple days just getting swallowed up doing inside run, and just not getting off blocks.

CF.C: Do you have a favorite/funny Coach Leach story you can share?
Henry: [laughs] “There’s a lot. I would say the funniest one was one time he was talking about how you can’t give a 110 percent because if you’ve ever tried to fill up a glass water at 110 percent, the (extra) 10 percent spills everywhere, so you just got to focus on giving 100 percent.”

CF.C: Were there any other schools you were considering?
Henry: “Portland State. I was going to walk-on there until I came here. Other than that, it was Southern Oregon. It was an NAIA school that was the only other school I had a scholarship to. That was about $1,000 dollars.

CF.C: Who’s the one coach on staff you don’t want to make angry?
Henry: [laughs] “Coach Joe probably, just because how big he is. You don’t want to get on his bad side. For how big and old he is, he can move, so definitely Coach Joe.”

CF.C: Who’s your favorite football player?
Henry: “Growing up it was Walter Payton. Just the way he played. He had a saying called “die-hard” and it just pretty much (means) don’t give up, and that’s just kind of how I’ve always wanted to play.”

CF.C: If you could play another position on the field, what would it be?
Henry: “Probably running back because back in the day I used to play it. So probably say running back, get the ball in my hands a little bit.”

CF.C: Do you think you can play running back in Leach’s Air Raid offense?
Henry: [laughs] “I don’t think so. I was more of full back (in high school). I don’t know if I was meant for this (offense).”

CF.C: If you lay a big hit on anybody on the team, who would it be?
Henry: [laughs] “I’ll go with Gabe Marks because he’s my roommate, and so he’s on offense and I’m on defense. So if I could catch Gabe coming across the middle one of these times that would be nice.”

CF.C: If you were stranded on an island, assuming you had food and shelter, what three items would you bring?
Henry: [laughs] “I would bring a Jimi Hendrix CD because I’d listen to that all the time. Probably all music, The Doors (album), and J. Cole’s new CD.”

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