Henry dashes to Offensive POY honor

Published 9:27 pm Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Offensive Player of the Year Jaylen Henry.

Touchdowns are hard to earn because no one person can just walk into the end zone, but for some players making their way to the end zone looks easy. Escambia Academy running back Jaylen Henry is one of those players that make it look easy.

During the 2011 season, Henry carried the ball 177 times for 1,579 yards, and 26 of those touches went for touchdowns. He also had two receiving touchdowns and a touchdown on both and punt return and kick off return giving him 30 total.

The senior running backs mix of speed and agility made him a force to be reckoned this season as he helped his team earn a trip to the AISA semifinals.

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He was the target that all 11 defenses that the Cougars faced aimed to stop and only a few of those defenses were able to slow him down.
For his efforts, Henry has been selected as The Atmore Advance’s 2011 Offensive Player of the Year.

Henry said to win the Offensive Player of the Year award is something he is very proud of.

“I’m really happy that I’ve been chosen,” Henry said. “It feels good to be recognized out of all of the players in the area. I really have to thank my coaches and my offensive line. They really helped get me this honor.”

Henry’s path to the POY honor was difficult early in the season when he was held below 100 yards in a couple of games. At the halfway point of his season, Henry picked up the pace and proved he still had his talents..

Henry’s running style improved in the offseason as a result of running track as well as his work in the weight room.

Henry’s coach Heath Gibson said his star running back really developed into a premiere back during the spring and summer.

“Track really helped him as far as his first burst of speed goes,” Gibson said. “He learned to accelerate and it has really helped him in his first 15 yards. He also put on 15 pounds of muscle, which has helped him break tackles and run over some defenders.”

For Henry, the improvement in his game is something that he knows was needed in order for him to help his team.

Becoming aggressive really proved to be a difference for Henry as he doubled his yards anThe weight room is another place that Henry tried to improve himself. He needed to build up muscle and weight to help add strength to his running ability.

Henry said he saw that it would take hard work to better himself as a competitor and overall football player.

“I made sure that I put in the time and effort improve  myself as a player and teammate,” he said. “I just always made sure I was running hard.”

The work paid off and Henry showed it on the scoreboard 30 times when he found the end zone.

Scoring touchdowns was exciting for Henry knowing that when he touched the ball he could make plays happen, he said.

“I was excited to be putting points on the board,” he said. “When I touched the ball I was thinking touchdown, so I wanted to make it happen as much as possible.”

With his team and school behind him, one other supporter could be heard above all of the rest.

With his mother walking up and down the length of the field, Henry always knew he had someone behind him, he said.

“That’s my motivator,” he said. “She’s the one who keeps me going when she is standing on the sideline yelling for me.”