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DerrickHenry has the size, the talent and a national high school record. The Alabamatrue freshman just didn't have the stage all season.
Hearrived Thursday night and lived up to his reputation. Breaking through in thesecond half of the 45-31 Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, the 6-foot-3, 238-poundback proved a threat running and catching.
Henryran for 100 yards on eight carries and caught a huge 61-yard touchdown passwith Alabama down two scores and 6:22 on the clock. Needing a lift in the thirdquarter, he broke a 43-yard touchdown to cut a two-touchdown lead in half.
"Itwas a dream come true," Henry said in his first interview since NationalSigning Day. "As a kid you always dream of playing college football when you'replaying football as a youngin. Going out there and just being a freshman andputting on for your team, and helping them try to get a victory, I was justvery thankful for my teammates for the opportunity that I got."
Andhe almost blocked a punt.
Beforethat he made an open-field tackle on a kickoff.
Mostimportantly, he brought life back to an Alabama offense that had issues withturnovers in the first half. His presence wasn't a surprise since coach NickSaban said he'd be the No. 2 back behind T.J. Yeldon to replace Kenyan Drake.
Henrywas grasping parts of the game he was missing early in the year. Pass blockingwas one, and he had a key pick-up on AJ McCarron's 67-yard touchdown pass toDeAndrew White in the second quarter.
"Itfelt good," Henry said, "to know my hard work paid off, practicing andstudying. All week I've done a good job picking up the blitzes."
Butit was Henry's second half that turned heads.
Heentered with 22 rushing yards on three carries, but went for 78 in the thirdquarter alone. His first catch in an Alabama jersey went for a 61-yardtouchdown.
Henrywas the third leading rusher this season, but saw limited action with Kenyan Drakesecond on the depth chart nearly all season. His 111-yard game against Arkansasfeatured an 80-yard touchdown as he ran for 282 yards on 27 carries in theregular season.
Derrickhad a really good bowl practice," Saban said. "Actually we decided that he wasour second best back going into the game and we are going to give him anopportunity based on his performance in practice and what he had done and theconfidence he gained throughout the course of the season in terms of knowingwhat to do and playing fast." AL.com coverage | 2013 Alabama Andrew Gribble stories, opinion, news Thank you for subscribing. You should receive your first newsletter within 24 hours. To view and subscribe to any of our other newsletters, please .
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