FAYETTEVILLE — Hudson Henry was highly recruited coming out of Pulaski Academy in the Class of 2019.
Hudson eventually chose Arkansas, but among the others offering him that he gave serious consideration to was Stanford and coach Morgan Turner. But when Dowell Loggains left Arkansas to assume offensive coordinator duties at South Carolina he was replaced by Turner. Henry talked about Turner and the recruiting process and also if the bowl will be his last game at Arkansas.
“For right now, I’m just focused on playing the bowl game and winning,” Henry said. “Just focused on practicing and trying to get ready for Kansas. That’s something I want to focus on whenever the offseason comes. With Coach Turner, I obviously knew him. He recruited me out of high school, so I already had that previous relationship with him. So far what I’ve seen, he’s a great coach. He’s coached for 13 years, and he’s coached a lot of NFL tight ends. He has a great history with that and the past couple days have been great.”
Turner also appreciates what Henry and Nathan Bax have done to make his transition from Stanford to bowl practices much easier.
“I’d be completely lost without them,” Turner said. “I mean, they’re out there- One’s in, the other one’s standing by me, telling me what the signals are and telling me what the plays are on what’s going on. I would have really struggled without them. It’s been really good. It also helps me see like, ‘Alright, how much do they know? How much do they really know this stuff? Alright, do they know what they’re doing? Do they know everyone else?’ So it’s really good to get a feel for their level of knowledge of the offense.”
Henry talked about he and Bax working with Turner during the practices.
“I think it’s definitely weird for him to come in during bowl prep and try to learn the entire offense, because it’s definitely something that’s very challenging,” Henry said. “But he’s picked it up pretty fast. During practice we stand over there and we help him with the signals and we help him with what’s going on, and we walk him through our technique. What route we’re running or whatever it is. He’s picked up on it pretty fast. He’s done a very good job of that.”
This season, Henry has two receptions for 14 yards. Prior to this season, Henry had played in 19 games with four starts. He had caught 23 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. One of the impressive young tight ends that will likely see action against Kansas is Tyrus Washington.
“He definitely progressed through the year,” Henry said. “I think he played in the first couple games then they obviously stopped. They didn’t want to burn his redshirt. He was just playing some special teams. So, in this last bowl game you’re going to see him get some action. I’m really excited. I think he’s a great player. He’s going to be a great player here. I think he’s what you call a true tight end. I think he’s going to be really good in this bowl game and give flashes at what the next few years could look like.”
Washington signed with the Hogs out of Leesburg (Ga.) Lee Country High School this past December. He was a three-year starter at his high school. As a senior, Washington hauled in 22 passes for 307 yards and five touchdowns. One tight end who won’t be at the bowl game is senior Trey Knox who has entered the transfer portal. Henry talked about what it’s like not having Knox around after four years.
“It’s definitely a different vibe,” Henry said. “Starting in August I think we had 10 tight ends. Since then we’ve lost four to the portal or injuries. So it’s definitely a different vibe than when the season started. But I think as a unit, we’ve just become closer these past couple of weeks now that we’ve realized, ‘OK, these are the guys that are going to be here for the bowl game.’
“It’s been great. Indy has been great. We’ve been really working on our craft with Coach Turner. And Bax and I have been able to become the leaders and kind of show these young guys how we do it.”
Among the other tight ends leaving were true freshman Dax Courtney, who medically retired, and redshirt freshman Erin Outley who is now in the transfer portal.
Henry is in a long line of Razorbacks from his family. He has seen a lot of college football throughout his life. With the transfer portal and NIL among other things it’s definitely changed even since Henry arrived at Arkansas.
“I think it’s definitely trending toward where there’s to have to be something set in place for NIL,” Henry said. “I think it’s going to reach a point where there’s going to be players making so much money that it’s going to almost get to a point where you’re going to have to almost employ players as state employees and try to pay people the same. Because you’re going to have 40-50 guys leaving every year to go take offers somewhere else. So I mean, I think it’ll be fine. It’ll reach a point where it gets that way, but I don’t think we’ll see that for a couple years.”
Henry and the Razorbacks will face Kansas on Wednesday, Dec. 28, in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. and televised on ESPN.