Many college students see their senior year as the last chance to make their own schedules, stay up late, sleep in and get through those final semesters before finding a job.
But for Jerry Henry, that’s not the case.
His semester includes 17-hour days with a full load of classes and the grind of a football season at the Air Force Academy.
For the 6-foot-6, 255-pound tackle, there is no better place to spend his college years — on and off the field — than at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“It’s one of those things you can’t really describe,” Henry said. “If you love football, then you love the intensity and the type of competition that college football breeds.”
Henry will get a chance to showcase his skills on national television tonight when Air Force (2-8, 0-6 Mountain West) takes on UNLV (5-5, 3-3). The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Closing out season
The Falcons are looking to close the season on a positive note in their final home game before departing to Colorado State.
When a player at Air Force finishes his four years of eligibility, he must fulfill a five-year active-duty stint in the military.
“These are guys that I would go to battle for, and these are guys who will fight for me as well,” Henry said.
Henry is a part of a Falcons’ offensive line that has paved the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the nation.
The Falcons currently rank 11th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing with an average of 277 yards per game. Led by Anthony LaCoste’s 781 yards and six touchdowns on 111 attempts, six running backs have at least 50 carries.
Even though Air Force will not be bowl eligible this season, Henry still wants to finish the season with two more highlights: Guiding the Falcons to wins in their last two games and helping LaCoste break the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
“I want to end on a good (note) and make sure we teach the young guys that this trend of losing is not something that’s common and shouldn’t continue,” Henry said.
Desire for the game
Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said that despite being undersized for a tackle, Henry has good blocking technique and a desire for the game.
“He’s a fine football player for us, but as a young man, he has absolutely unlimited leadership ability,” Calhoun said. “He’s a tremendous worker, great character. He’s everything you want in a leader and an Air Force officer candidate.”
Henry came to the academy after two successful seasons at Shoemaker High School, where he lettered in football and track.
As a junior in 2008, Henry helped Shoemaker make it to the playoffs for the first time in school history. He earned second team all-district honors in 2008 and earned a spot on the first team as a senior.
The Air Force was the only NCAA Division I school that made Henry an offer. He chose it over Midwestern State, a Division II school.
The then-sophomore played in all 11 games and was a part of an offense that won the conference’s rushing title for the 13th consecutive season, finished fifth in the nation in rushing and allowed only 10 quarterback sacks.
A more formidable Falcons’ run game finished second nationally in rushing with 316.2 yards per game and allowed only eight sacks last season, helping the team make a trip to the Armed Forces Bowl. Air Force also made it to the Military Bowl in 2011.
“I wanted to make sure I had every opportunity to have a chance to play here and I did,” Henry said. “I think things are going OK. I think things are working out for me.”