Yulee High coach Bobby Ramsay said he last saw Henry when he was home for graduation at the beginning, but the two communicate often through text message.
“Once he got out of the boot and back on two feet, everything kicked into high gear for him,” Ramsay said. “He’s never been injured before so he had to get past the initial stage of being hurt. His spirits have perked back up.”
Henry, a 6-foot-3, 238-pound running back, was sidelined for the Crimson Tide’s A-Day Game after suffering the injury in the team’s second scrimmage.
At the time, Henry was the team’s third-leading rusher with 131 yards on 29 carries in his two scrimmages.
Ramsay said Henry was disappointed with the timing of the injury, but added the coaches told him he had gotten everything he could out of spring training and that A-Day was more for the fans.
Ramsay thinks this injury will give Henry extra motivation.
“He already knows he has doubters about rather he can be a running back in college,” Ramsay said. “Certainly, the competition at (Alabama) at the running back position is tough to begin with. I think he wants to show everybody what he can do.
“Sometimes with an injury like this, you can come back stronger from it because you push yourself so hard in rehab and build your body up.”
Henry will have a lot of competition for the second running back spot behind likely starter T.J. Yeldon. The Tide signed three other tailbacks in its 2013 class who are regarded among the top 10 nationally by recruiting services: Alvin Kamara, Tyren Jones and Altee Tenpenny.
Along with the incoming talent are veterans looking to make a name for themselves.
In addition, sophomore Kenyan Drake, junior Jalston Fowler and sophomore Dee Hart will all be fighting for carries.
“Derek’s skillset is unique. That’s the difference between him and everyone else,” Ramsay said. “He’s going to stand out a little bit more with his size, maybe bring a few more things to the table. There’s not another 6-foot-4 running back that can run a 4.4 on the team.”
Ramsay recognizes Henry still needs to grow as a player.
“One thing I told him when he left was to live in his protections,” Ramsay said. “The key is going to be how well you pick up blitzes. If you can’t block, you’re not going to be able to play. That and catching the football. ... Working on becoming a complete player.”
Henry was one of seven signees to enroll in January. In November 2012, he set the national high school career rushing record with 12,243 yards. It broke a 59-year-old record set by Ken Hall for Sugarland, Texas.