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September 28, 2012
Four-star Rivals100 athlete Derrick Henry answered the question of where he'll be playing college football next season when he committed to Alabama during a pep rally at Yulee High School in Florida on Friday afternoon. But there are still plenty of questions facing Henry's transition from high school to college.
Most prominent among them: Which position will he play for the Crimson Tide?
Henry provided a quick and simple answer Friday.
"I see myself playing running back," Henry said. "I can't tell you what's going to happen in the future, but I know I just have to get in there and work."
So far, Henry's hard work has been more than enough to get the job done at running back. He has rushed for 9,255 yards in his high school career, a number that ranks second all-time in the state of Florida.
But at 6-foot-3, 243 pounds, and with a crowded backfield inTuscaloosa, there are plenty of people who think that Henry might have been better off sticking with his original commitment to Georgia, or opting to go with Tennessee. Henry's high school coach at Yulee, Bobby Ramsey, isn't one of them.
"I've always laughed when people say he's too big," Ramsey said. "It's hard for me to imagine that a guy who is as productive as him can't plan the position."
Henry said he's not worried about the numbers in the Alabama backfield or when he'll make it on the field with the Tide. He's taking a wait-and-see approach.
"By going in and working, everything will take care of itself," Henry said. "I just have to focus on what I'm going to do with my (high school) team and then get up there in January and worry about that."
One of the most common criticisms of Henry as a runner is his proclivity to run with an upright style, making him a bigger target for defenses. While he's been able to get away with it in high school, even Ramsey agrees he's going to have to adapt when he gets to college.
"Does he need to run lower? Probably," Ramsey said. "But he's never going to look like Maurice Jones-Drew going through the hole. But I know he gets the ball and goes forward."
Ramsey said he expects Henry's size to pay dividends when it comes to short yardage, goal line and late-game situations.
"I think he's going to be a great closer at the next level," Ramsey said. "If you're an SEC team and it's 20-10 in the fourth quarter, he's a guy you can get the ball to, and he's going to get first downs and he's got a chance to score to because of his great speed."
Henry, who is on track to graduate early and enroll atAlabama in January, said Alabama's recent track record of producing NFL backs such as Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram factored heavily into his decision.
"What they did with Mark and Trent really shows how they can develop running backs," Henry said. "T.J. Yeldon is off to a great start, too, and I just felt comfortable when I went there and talked to the coaches."
Henry also lauded the atmosphere coach Nick Saban has developed within the Alabama program.
"Their program is business-like program," he said. "They use that mentally in the weight room and how they approach everything even in the classroom. I just like everything about Alabama."
While he didn't say why he didn't opt for the depth-chart friendly situation in Knoxville, it's clear he believes his talents will earn him playing time with the Tide.
"There are big shoes to fill when you're a running back at Alabama," Henry said. "But I know if I get in there and work hard and do what I'm supposed to do, I'll get carries."