EA’s Henry signs with KilgorePublished 4:23pm Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Surrounded by his family, track coach and athletic director Escambia Academy Cougar Jaylen Henry put in ink where he will attend college this fall.
Henry –who graduated Thursday night wtith the EA Class of 2012– signed his letter of intent to go play football for the Kilgore Rangers, a junior college in Kilgore, Texas.
The former AISA All-State football player will make the trip out west in July to report for workouts with the Rangers.
The chance to play in Texas takes Henry from his comfort zone, but presents opportunity.
“It feels good,” Henry said. “I’m leaving the family behind, but I look forward to playing football out in Texas.”
Henry came to Escambia Academy in 2009 and immediately helped transform the team into an offensive power.
With Henry and former Cougars Jon Dean and Cameron “Cowboy” McGhee, EA turned around from 0-11 and went 7-6 with a trip to the AISA AA semifinals.
After a rebuilding season in 2010, Henry was again in prime form in 2011 and helped lead the Cougars to another semifinal game where they were defeated by the Patrician Saints.
After the season, Heath Gibson resigned as head coach and current head coach Hugh Fountain took control of the team.
Although he never coached Henry, Fountain said the work Henry put in helped earn him his chance.
“This is a big accomplishment,” Fountain said. “It goes back to Jaylen’s work ethic. Of course, I never coached him, so all of that goes back to coach Gibson’s coaching, but it shows that any kid out here can go to college if they work hard.”
As he prepares to leave the place he called home, Henry will take things with him that he learned.
The abilities that Gibson helped him hone particularly.
“If I could I would take coach (Heath) Gibson, but he’s not here,” Henry said. “I’ll take all of things I learned from him though. My running ability, cutting and catching will be things that stick with me when I get to Kilgore.”
Henry also starred in track for the Cougars during his three years at the school.
His track coach, David Walker, said he hopes for the best, but admits he wishes the scholarship was for track.
“I think it’s great for Jaylen,” Walker said. “I wish it was track, but he was just as talented in football as he was in track. I wish nothing, but the best for him.”
Once his two years are up at Kilgore, Henry hopes to continue his athletic career.
Playing a sport at a larger school is a dream he hopes to accomplish.
“I hope to go Division 1,” Henry said. “I want to get to a bigger school and play football and run track.”