Hornets LB Henry tackling his problems, opponents

Tommy Henry has attempted to tackle every obstacle in his life no matter what has been throw his way.

Now, the 6-foot, 240-pound linebacker is in his fourth year of playing football for the Catawba County Hornets and hoping to have another chance to play at the next level.

Henry still ranks among the top 10 in the nation in career touchdowns, scoring 128 during his four year prep football career at Maiden High (2003-06).

He also ran for 8,595 rushing yards and tallied a 100-yard rushing game 44 times, which is fifth-most in the nation.

While Henry is known for his rushing accolades, he loved playing on the other side of the ball the most.
“I’ve always been on defense, even in high school,” Henry said. “I was straight defense. I played running back because I was good at it. I was just as good at running back as I was linebacker, but I’ve always loved defense. I’d rather hit someone than get hit.”

Attempting to get to the next level after graduating from Maiden High, Henry enrolled at Coffeyville Community College (Kan.).

After spending a year at CCC, Henry was poised to start for the Broncos at middle linebacker.

An incident back home, though, changed Henry’s future in not only football, but in life.

At age 19, Henry was arrested on July 10, 2008 and charged with kidnapping and felony assault for reportedly burning a homeless person with a cigarette lighter.

His charges were eventually lessened, and he pled guilty to simple assault. Henry’s kidnapping charges were dropped.

He served 24 months of probation and was ordered to pay $721 in fines.

The entire incident enlightened Henry.

“It was a mistake from the beginning,” Henry said. “It wasn’t even supposed to escalate like it did. I shouldn’t have been there. I was around the wrong people at the wrong time. I watch where I go now and put myself in better opportunities where I don’t get into trouble like that. That was just God telling me to watch where I go and who I’m around.”

Searching to get back to the game he loved, Henry joined the Hornets in 2009 and has been with the team ever since.

“I’m not doing this to get paid,” Henry said. “I’m doing this because I love football. The first year I came out, I had to get used to it. Now, I’m good with all of my teammates. It’s been a good journey for me.”

In his first year with the Hornets, Henry started at running back, but he eventually transitioned to defense playing linebacker.

Since that change, the Hornets have ranked as one of the best semi-pro football team defenses the nation in defense.

“We’ve got a lot of leaders,” Henry said of his team’s defense. “Last year, we had a good defense, but we were doing what we want. This year, we’ve been smart as far as play calls and players blitzing.”

This season, Henry leads the Hornets in tackles and has tallied 11 quarterback sacks in three games.
Hornets coach and owner Doug Frye sees more in Henry than just his statistics.

“He is one of our veterans because of his ability and tenaciousness, and he attacks the game of football,” Frye said. “He’ll give you 110 percent. He doesn’t get tired or wore out. His energy is always going all of the time. He is strong, quick and a ball player.”

Henry is still hoping to have a chance to play at the next level if a door is ever opened for him.

“Maybe someone will see me, take a look at my film and I’ll get an opportunity for a workout,” he said. “I’m not quitting. I’m not giving up. I’m still grinding. If I get that chance, I get it. I’m just doing what I have to do now to take care of my son.”

Frye is also hoping Henry gets that opportunity.

“It’s fortunate that we’ve got him, but unfortunate that he isn’t playing at a higher level of football,” Frye said. “As a football player, all that he been through has taken a little bit of exposure away from him, but he has handled it like a true man. He has played the hand that was dealt to him and learned to work with it. He has to been one of the best all-around players not only on our team, but in our league, as well.”