Rumors have spilled outside of Summers County, West Virginia that linebacker John Davidson Henry of Talcott High School has made a strong verbal commitment to the University of Texas at Austin.
Graduating in June, Henry has racked up over 600 tackles in his four years on varsity with the Steelers along with 20 forced fumbles, 18 interceptions, and five defensive touchdowns.
“It’s almost too much to believe what he’s done here,” Talcott head coach Scott Nelson said. “Sometimes I can’t tell whether he’s man or machine.”
The 6’8”, 330-pound senior set countless records at Talcott High School, including running a 3.97-second 40-yard dash in front of running back coach Gerald Peters.
"I had to check the batteries on the thing and make him run again." Peters said. "After that I still couldn't believe it."
Peters then told Henry to fetch Talcott's Math Department Head, Timothy Livingston, to get a second opinion.
Livingston ran a similar 40 test timing using high technological equations involving an auxiliary chord, a bugle, and an iPad.
Henry ran the 40 again. The screen read 3.9721000 seconds exactly. Livingston was so distressed by the outcome, he resigned as head of the math department.
"It's impossible." Livingston said. "It's just impossible. I cannot believe what happened that day. Numbers have never failed me before but I just can't believe this one. I'll never count again."
The 6’8”, 330-pound senior made an impact on Talcott High School, leading the Steelers to the most consecutive home wins in school history (15) and two district championships. Rumor has it that Henry also volunteered to build the stadium tunnel, later named “Big Ben Tunnel” to aid the school from high machinery costs.
The money saved went to charity.
“He was more than just a football player,” Talcott English teacher Gillian Welch said of Henry, who currently holds a 4.9 GPA. “John was an excellent student. He balanced sports and education and showed maturation showing up for extra tutorials. He always wanted to practice writing essays, but he had a knack for writing ballads.”
These ballads made an appearance in Talcott’s senior musical, where Mrs. Welch encouraged Henry to show his work to the director, John Garst.
“Oh they were beautiful pieces of work,” Garst said. “They really brought you to the soul of the late 19th century. A lot of his work was fanatical. You know, stuff of legend like Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan. But each had a personal meaning to him that really made a connection with our audience. We received excellent feedback.”
Henry has received similar feedback from most audiences that have seen him play; most notably, his performance against Sam Hyde High in the second round of the state playoffs.
Sam Hyde was led by running back Samuel “Bigfoot” Wallace, who had taken the state rushing crown and averaged 15 yards after contact. On Hyde’s first offensive possession, Wallace took the handoff off the right edge, running over the first defender and came face to face with Henry, who had slid down from his inside linebacker position. There, Henry delivered his hardest hit of his football career, sending Wallace’s helmet and the ball flailing backwards.
As it turned out, the ball flew 15 yards behind Wallace and sailed through the uprights. The two confused officials signaled both safety and a good field goal, resulting in a five-point swing for the Steelers.
“Henry really laid the hammer on him,” head official Stephen Bartelmy said. “We had never seen anything like that before so we decided he might as well receive the five points for the play.”
The Steelers would lose in the next round to Bear Lake, cutting Henry’s high school career short and without a State Championship.
“It really ate at him,” Nelson said. “I remember after the Bear Lake game he didn’t say a word for a few days. I really wish we could have brought him a win. No one deserved it more than he did. He would’ve dug through a wall for us. We just couldn’t dig out a win for him. It’s a shame, but that’s football.”
Perhaps Henry’s aspirations will be fulfilled as a Longhorn. He will certainly be a key addition to a defense coming off what many consider the worst statistical performance in school history.
The only strange thing about Henry’s committal is that Texas was the only program to offer.
John Davidson Henry, a well-kept secret who the Longhorns hope isn't too good to be true.