Arkansas Razorback Football
FAYETTEVILLE – Though overshadowed again, the forgotten Henry nevertheless posted a game to remember.
Especially remembered by his Arkansas head coach.
For Arkansas’ last game, the 33-21 victory over Ole Miss on Oct. 17 in Fayetteville, senior middle linebacker Grant Morgan, originally a Razorbacks walk-on out of Greenwood, and redshirt freshman walk-on Hudson Clark of Dallas logged national honors.
Morgan, 19 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown, was named Player of the Week by the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik Awards.
Clark, three interceptions, was named Player of the Week by the Jim Thorpe Award.
Both also were recognized by the SEC. Morgan as Co-Defensive Player of the Week and Clark as SEC Defensive Player of the Week.
Neither might have received awards in a winning game but for Henry’s supporting role. Also originally a Razorbacks walk-on and like Morgan years into earning a scholarship with Clark promised one effective January, senior Henry of Little Rock via Pulaski Academy started against Ole Miss replacing injured weakside linebacker Bumper Pool.
Pool logged SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his 20 tackles in Arkansas’ 21-14 Oct. 3 victory over Mississippi State but injured ribs the next week in the controversial 30-28 loss to Auburn.
Henry didn’t make 19 or 20 tackles, but his eight stops against Ole Miss, two for losses, plus a pass breakup, were sufficiently vital for media mentioning him during last week’s bye week to Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman.
“Didn’t he play well?” Pittman said. “I mean, he really did! He played really well. I thought he played a really good game against Ole Miss.”
Hayden tends to be the forgotten Henry among the Razorbacks’ Henry clan.
Mark Henry, the father, lettered on the offensive line for Ken Hatfield’s 1988 and 1989 Southwest Conference champion Razorbacks. He started for 1990 and ’91 Razorbacks of Jack Crowe and captained the 1991 team.
The middle man among three brothers, Hayden saw older brother, 3-year Razorbacks letterman Hunter, win the Mackey Award as Arkansas’ All-American tight end for Bret Bielema’s 2015 Razorbacks turn pro after his junior year and become All-Pro with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Younger brother Hudson was among the nation’s most sought tight ends. Preseason injuries so impeded him that he redshirted. Hudson was one game short of playing the maximum four games allowed to redshirt as he was among the Razorbacks stricken by mumps before the 2019 finale loss to Missouri.
This season Hudson caught 4 passes for 20 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown in the 21-14 victory over Mississippi State. He missed the Auburn game injured but caught two passes, one for 13 yards, against Ole Miss. If he can stay healthy, Hudson could be a key target for quarterback Feleipe Franks.
Meanwhile from 2017-2019 Hayden Henry played some good ball on bad 4-8, 2-10, 2-10 teams. The walk-on earned his scholarship playing all 12 games on special teams as a true freshman and ever since has been the handyman linebacker whether at weakside, strongside or middle plus special teams.
The more Hayden played the more he hated losing. And the more he embraced what new Coach Pittman and new defensive coordinator Barry Odom and new linebackers coach Rion Rhoades preached.
“I just think everyone’s so fed up,” Hayden said of the losing of 20 consecutive SEC games broken by the victories over Mississippi State and Ole Miss. “We’re so tired of being Arkansas: The bottom feeder. I think it’s been great getting to win some games to realize that ‘Wow, we have talent on this team! And we have guys that can play really well at a high level.’ We’ve got guys making a lot of plays. We’re feeding off each other and doing a lot of good things.”
And feeling so good knowing all do good.
“We’re realizing that we can all 11 play really well together,” Henry said. “We have a very cohesive defense. Our secondary is extremely sound, our front seven are playing great, so we just know everyone is going to do their job and when everyone does their job we’re going to make big plays, we’re going to have TFLs, (tackles for losses) we’re going to have sacks, interceptions.”
To Pittman, Hayden manifests this team’s surging confidence.
“He’s kind of a throwback a little bit,” Pittman said. “He’s kind of a wild-eyed, kind of a crazy kid, in a good way.”
“He’s going to hit you and he’s going to tell me about it,” Pittman said. “He keeps telling me, ‘Coach, this is what I’m going to do.’ I said, ‘Hey, dude, ‘I’ve got the best seat in the house, so I’ll be at the game, you just show it to me.’ We kid back and forth, but he’s played really well.”
Coming off Arkansas’ bye week, Henry next opportunity comes against the Texas A&M Aggies in Saturday night’s 6:30 SEC Network SEC West game at the Aggies’ Kyle Field.