FAYETTEVILLE — Following Tuesday’s spring practice, redshirt sophomore tight end Hudson Henry participated in a Zoom interview with reporters.
Henry, 6-5, 249, was a highly-recruited tight end out of Pulaski Academy in the Class of 2019. Henry played in three games as a freshman thus allowing him to redshirt. In 2020 under Sam Pittman, Henry played in six games catching 16 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Henry battled some injuries his first two seasons at Arkansas, but seems to be healthy and enjoying a very good spring.
For the third time in three years, Henry will be playing for a different position’s coach with Cody Kennedy coming in to replace Jon Cooper. Barry Lunney Jr. was his coach in 2019.
“I think with Coach Kennedy coming in the thing we needed to work on as a group was just physicality and just being real nasty on the field,” Henry said. “Something we talk about every day in our room is finishing everything, finishing routes, finishing blocks and be the last guy to put a shove on a guy. That’s something we’ve really put an emphasis on in our individual drills.”
In Saturday’s scrimmage, not only did Henry catch three passes for 55 yards, but had an outstanding hit on talented safety Jalen Catalon. That got Catalon’s attention.
“He has definitely got a lot more physical,” Catalon said. “You can tell he has started to gain a lot more confidence and is starting to realize his potential and what he has to offer for the offense and to give to the offense.
“He is having a really good spring so far. He is having less [missed assignments] and you can tell he is flowing fast and moving fast. He has definitely gotten stronger. I learned that the hard way. He has definitely gotten a little bit stronger. He is a really good tight end and he makes me better each and every day. We always say iron sharpens iron and that is perfect example, me going against him every day.”
Henry talked about that play as well.
“We just want to finish everything,” Henry said. “We don’t want to get bullied, we want to be the bully. I made a great play on Jalen. We both had a pretty big collision on the sidline. From last season to this season I think our room has changed a lot and is still changing. There’s a lot of things we need to work on, but we’re changing as a group. We’re changing kind of the vibe around the tight end group.”
In addition to getting more physical, Henry has also worked hard in the weight room and it seems to be paying off as well.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot bigger,” Henry said. “I’ve gained about five pounds. Coach (Jamil) Walker got us in the weight room this spring and he has really put us to work. I think one big emphasis I wanted to work on was my lower body strength and I think that was one thing I was really able to develop a lot better.”
Count Henry among the biggest fans of Kennedy, who came over from Southern Miss where he was set to coach the offensive line.
“I love Coach Kennedy,” Henry said. “He came in and really took control. We really just gathered around. He came from being an O-line coach so I think that was a big transition for him, but it’s really not. The tight end is really just an extra lineman, but also a receiver. It’s one of the most dangerous positions on the field.
“I think Coach Pittman brought him in to help our run game. Not to hinder our run game, but to a force for good like I said earlier. Help out Trelon Smith and all those guys running the ball. Have big plays this season.”
Henry also admitted all the injuries and setbacks he suffered earlier in his career at Arkansas was something on his mind at the time.
“There has been times where I’ve felt really down at times,” Henry said. “I’m asking myself why am I getting hurt? Why can’t I just play football? The thing I’ve learned I’m not going to let my situation define me. I’m not going to let things that happen to me harden me or soften me. I’m going to use it to change my environment. I’m going to use the guys around me. If I get hurt, I’m going to cheer my guys on. I’m going to encourage them, pat them on the back when they do something good and I’m going to help them when they do something wrong. I’m not going to let injuries hinder me. That’s something I had to learn since I’ve been here. It took awhile, but it has been a journey. Last year dealing with a lot of those injuries has taught me toughness and playing through stuff and a lot of those things.”
Henry and the Razorbacks will return to the practice fields on Thursday. The spring game is Saturday, April 17, at 2 p.m.