Alabama running back Derrick Henry has been one of the nation’s most dominant players through two weeks. But a story posted on Wednesday outlined how close Henry was to leaving coach Nick Saban and the Tide as a freshman.
ESPN’s Alex Scarborough reports that the 2013 season was rough on Henry, to the point that he was ready to leave school.
“His first instinct was, ‘I want to leave, I don’t want to be here,'” his mother, Stacey, said.
Scarborough outlined the source of Henry’s discontent:
He was homesick for Yulee [Fla.], adrift without his support system. At Alabama, coaches cursed at him on the practice field for the first time in his life. It wasn’t enough that he was a five-star recruit with a once-in-a-lifetime ability to run the football; he needed to learn how to read the defense, catch the football and block.
One night at the family dinner table, Henry’s closest relatives and friends implored him to stick with the Crimson Tide. After Henry left the house, both Stacey and Medley called Saban, who was reportedly surprised that Henry was displeased.
But that year’s Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma appeared to be the saving grace for all involved. Henry collected 161 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns as the Tide fell to the Sooners, 45-31. The performance changed Henry’s outlook on Alabama and effectively altered the entire trajectory of his college career.
Henry is tied for the national lead with six rushing touchdowns, and has piled up 243 yards on 31 carries. No. 2 Alabama takes on No. 15 Ole Miss this Saturday night in Tuscaloosa (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).