While the last several weeks has led to Arkansas being far more banged up than it would like to be with this weekend’s matchup with UAPB as the last hurdle to clear before a much needed bye, the Razorbacks do have one contributor healthy and back in the mix in redshirt sophomore tight end Hudson Henry.
After a 2020 campaign that saw him haul in 16 receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown and earn SEC All-Freshman Team honors, Henry was projected to provide a solid 1-2 punch at the position alongside senior Blake Kern. Instead, the Little Rock (Ark.) native has been limited by a host of lingering injuries throughout fall camp and into the first half of the season.
Henry did not record a catch in the first four games and did not play against Georgia and Ole Miss. Even as he was working his way back into the swing of things in practice, wide receiver Trey Knox was getting a good amount of his reps at the spot behind Kern.
Henry was finally able to return last weekend against Auburn, where he had a good amount of snaps and came away with a pair of receptions for 22 yards. Arkansas coach Sam Pittman was pleased with what he saw out of the talented tight end and expects him to continue to contribute moving forward.
“I was proud of him,” said Pittman. “He made plays, he was physical. He’s done that in practice. He’s just been a guy that’s been hurt a lot this year. He finally got healthy. Trey [Knox] had taken some of his reps, even when he was healthy. I thought he played well. I thought he blocked well. He caught some passes, made some guys miss, made some extra yards. He’s certainly in the plans for this week and the future. I’m glad to see that he’s finally healthy again.”
A high ankle sprain kept Henry out of the last few weeks of last season, and that was part of what hampered him during the early portions of this year. He wasn’t able to perform at his best, and the medical staff wanted to be cautious and avoid any further damage.
“I was just battling some injuries, especially with my ankle,” said Henry. “I know last year I had a high ankle sprain. I actually almost tore my ankle last year. So, I was kind of dealing with some injuries there not being able to perform at a very high level, and I was having a lot of pain whenever I was running. So, they just thought it was best that I kind of hold back a little bit and not potentially tear it. That was what was going on, but now everything is fine. Everything is good.”
As frustrating as it is to be held back by injuries, Henry understands it is part of the game. More than anything, he was happy to be healed up and back on the field helping the Razorbacks, although he wasn’t happy with the outcome as Arkansas fell to Auburn on Saturday.
“Last year, I kind of battled some of the same stuff, and it just happens,” said Henry. “Football is football. Injuries happen. You get beat up and you’re not able to play as well as you can. So, this past week it felt really good to get some confidence back and be able to get back in there and help the team out.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the win. That is what it is. We weren’t able to execute. We weren’t able to do what we wanted to do on offense the way we knew we could have done. Auburn is a great team, and they came out and played a better game than us. But, it’s obviously fun to get back out there and kind of get back into the swing of things.”
Henry will hope to build off his positive outing last weekend and help the Hogs snap a three-game losing streak when they travel back near his old stomping grounds to take on UAPB from War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (Ark.) this weekend.
“Hayden and I have played a lot of games there actually,” said Henry. “We both had the opportunity to go to a lot of state championships when we played under coach Kelly at PA. I think going back there is special even though we have a different jersey on and are playing for a different team. It’s special that way and it’s special because we’re playing in our own backyard.”
Arkansas and UAPB are scheduled for an 11 a.m. CT kickoff on Saturday, the fourth in a row for the Razorbacks. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.