It might have been easy for University of Houston senior running back Ta’Zhawn Henry to question his journey, but he never did.
Henry just stayed the course as his stellar high school career took him from Lamar High School to Texas Tech and now UH. Henry had moments where his talent shined but he had never been the primary back until this season.
His faith kept him focused and determined.
“I always prayed on it. I just knew one of these years I was going to be a starter and God did it,” Henry said recently to The Defender. “I prayed and God just put it in front of me. I just have to execute and make plays.
“Everything is in God’s hands right now.”
But it has been quite the journey getting to this point. Henry, who is 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds, began his career at Texas Tech playing for two seasons under Kliff Kingsbury, who is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Henry then landed at UH where he thrived last season as a backup in Dana Holgorsen’s system.
Kingsbury and Holgorsen are both products of the Mike Leach (former Texas Tech coach) system which made Henry’s move to the Cougars make sense.
“I learned so much playing for Coach Kliff in his offense, so when I transferred here to Houston I knew Coach Dana and Cliff knew each other so that’s how I got here honestly,” Henry said. “I guess Coach Kliff called Coach Dana and they had a little conversation and that’s how I transferred to UH, back to my city.”
Now it’s all in front of him.
First-year UH running backs coach Mike Jinks has been impressed with what he has seen so far from Henry since spring ball through fall camp and through the first five games of the season.
Henry had been slowed by a nagging ankle injury since the end of fall camp but had a career game in the 34-27 win over Rice with 112 yards and a touchdown rushing to lead the way for the Cougs.
“It looks like the game has kind of slowed down for him a little bit,” Jinks said. “His vision is kind of at another level. He is probably, pound for pound, one of the toughest running backs in the [American Athletic Conference].”
Henry, who had just 25 yards on eight carries in last week’s loss to Tulane, said he is back to feeling normal again.
“The first two games I was banged up with an ankle injury type deal so I’ve been very limited in reps and limited in playing how I wanted to play because I couldn’t really make the right cuts, the cuts I normally make during practice because I was banged up and hurt a lot,” he said. “But now I’m feeling good, 100 percent healthy so I’m ready to go play and continue playing good.”
With Henry back healthy, it’s expected that the Cougars will have one of the best running back tandems in the AAC with Pearland product and USC transfer Brandon Campbell sharing the load in the backfield. Campbell currently leads UH in rushing with 243 yards and three touchdowns on 55 carries while Henry is right there with him with 51 carries for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
“If we can get them both healthy they could be pretty fun to watch. I think right now if they are both healthy it would be a 1A and 1B situation,” Jinks said of Henry and Campbell. “I think they play off of each other extremely well so I’m looking forward to getting them both back to full speed and getting those guys back out there.”
In the meantime, Henry is enjoying and appreciating the opportunity his college football journey has presented him.
“I was just telling my family, starting my senior year and starting in my city, it’s just crazy,” said Henry, who will also graduate this semester. “I couldn’t script this any better, it just fell into my hands.
“I just prayed on it and I just stayed the course and never gave up.”