stepping from the shadows.
He has a name fans of the Arkansas Razorbacks are familiar with, but Little Rock’s Hayden Henry is determined to prove he’s also got game.
A major contributor to Pulaski Academy’s football success the previous three seasons, Henry has designs on making an impact at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville this fall.
“I want to learn the playbook as fast as I can,” said Henry, a 6-3, 215-pound linebacker. “Playing on special teams is a possibility. To get a chance to play, I’ll do whatever I have to do and work as hard as possible. I’m going to set my goals high and hopefully I’ll be able to achieve them.”
Pulaski Academy Coach Kevin Kelley said Henry understands and can dissect a play quicker than most defenders.
“He was always one step ahead,” Kelley said. “He understood what other teams were trying to do. He really has a passion for the game and he works at it, whether it’s putting in extra work on the field or watching film. Hayden will take it to the extreme.”
In the past three seasons, Pulaski Academy has compiled a 40-2 record and won three consecutive Class 5A state championships. During that time, Henry was in on 203 tackles. After his senior season — in which he had 39 solo tackles and assisted on 54 more — Henry was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps Defensive Player of the Year.
“I was very proud of that,” said Henry, who also had four interceptions and recovered three fumbles as a senior.
Hayden Hunter is a brother to Hunter Henry, a former Razorback standout at tight end and current member of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Hayden said his brother’s advice to him was simple: “Work hard and go as fast as you can at all times.”
“He said, ‘Man, there’s a lot of talented players out there, but a lot of times that talent doesn’t mean anything when they don’t work,’ ” Hayden Henry said. “He told me to keep my head up and show everyone why you’re there.”
“Hayden has already acquired a sense of what the game is all about,” Kelley said. “A lot of players will get into a situation and then realize they’re over their heads. Hayden isn’t one of those guys.”
Besides the Bruins’ three state championships, Henry said his most enjoyable high school experience was playing a game in Dallas against powerhouse Highland Park.
“Most Texas high schools are enormous and their stands are always packed on Friday nights,” Hayden said. “Going to Dallas and beating a team as good as Highland Park was a very fun experience.”
Henry accepted a blue shirt offer from the Razorbacks, which allows him to play in the fall and go on scholarship either on the first day of the fall semester or in January. He counts toward the 2018 recruiting class.
Besides Arkansas, he was heavily recruited by both the Naval and Air Force academies. Arkansas was always his first choice.
“I love Fayetteville, and I’m so happy I’ll be playing there,” he said. “I’ve always liked the atmosphere of Razorback games. It’s best when the stadium is totally packed. It’s really a great place to play.”
Kelley said fans will enjoy having another Henry on the roster.
“Everybody knows his older brother, Hunter, was just a perfect person at Arkansas and a good face for the program. Hayden’s just like that,” Kelley said. “He’s a little more to himself than Hunter. He’s a little more quiet and focused and those kinds of things, but just an outstanding young man with great morals and values.”
Hayden Henry had 39 tackles, 54 assists and 4 interceptions last season at Pulaski Academy.