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Darrell Henderson represents the Mid-South on Super Bowl Sunday

Updated: Feb. 11, 2022 at 10:00 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - When you ask Darrell Henderson’s former coaches to describe his play, they both said, “speed.”

Memphis Head Coach Ryan Silverfield remembered it from his first practice as a Memphis Tiger.

“You sit there and say oh my gosh, who is this kid,” Silverfield said. “You get to see a lot of talent you have especially in the running backs room at Memphis. He was one of those rare ones. You’d see a ten yard gain be a 100 yard gain. He had dynamic speed, movement, skill.”

His high school coach, Lance Pogue, recognized his speed before most.

“I just knew when he was in fifth grade the sky was the limit for him. In the pee wee games he would almost score every play he got the ball and you just couldn’t tackle him. It was just fun to watch,” he said.

South Panola is football institution in Batesville, Mississippi. Winners of 11 state championships, two with Henderson on the team. His senior season, he led the Tigers to an undefeated 15-0 season. “He actually scored the winning touchdown his senior year in overtime to win the walk-off state championship,” Pogue remembered. “I know that’s something he’ll never forget, I sure won’t either.”

After his four years at South Panola, Henderson became the school’s all-time leading rusher totaling 5,801 total yards rushing. Yet, he wasn’t heavily recruited.

“Some people counted him out, being small. MSU, Ole Miss, they didn’t sign him,” Pogue said. “Memphis did and Memphis got the steal of the whole year.”

After three seasons at Memphis, Henderson finished as the second-leading rusher in Tigers history.

When Silverfield was asked if there’s one Henderson run he remembers the most, he said, “There’s a thousand of them. You don’t average over nine yards a carry unless you’re ripping off runs. He was one of those that every time he touched you knew he had the chance to go the distance. We talk about those championship games against UCF. You talk about one of those first games, we ran for almost 400 yards in the 1st half and he was back there playing wildcat quarterback . He was just running right and left and running all over them.”

The qualities he held as a Tigers helped him transition into the NFL.

“He has fantastic vision,” Silverfield said. “It’s very hard to play running back in the NFL. The average NFL running back lasts three years. To be a third round pick, I think people saw that skillset he had. He averaged almost 9 yards per carry. When you talk about that there’s got to be some good vision, be able to see the hole and also have that speed and anyone who has ever watched him would say, there goes that boy and he could run.”

From Batesville, to Memphis, to a third round draft pick, to the Rams starting running back, to playing on Super Bowl Sunday, Darrell Henderson represents the Mid-South the entire way.

According to Silverfield, “You talk to the people in the Rams organization and they just talk about what a charismatic, young man he is. He’s a professional, he does things the right way. He’s handled himself the right way and that’s how he was the moment he stepped into the program and the way he continues to do things all the way through Super Bowl Sunday.”

After missing five games with a knee injury, Henderson was activated off IR. Rams head coach Sean McVay expects him to play when the Super Bowl kicks off Sunday at 5 PM on Action News 5.

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