It wasn’t really much of a surprise on Sunday that Yulee star running back Derrick Henry stole the show at the Nike SPARQ Combine at Winter Garden West Orange High.
He arrived late after a three-hour drive from the small town on the Georgia border, which is just north of Jacksonville. But given an opportunity to warm up and take a few more runs than usual on the slippery, worn-out artificial surface, Henry finally kicked things into gear.
The Georgia commitment, who is heading into his senior year, is a specimen of a running back at 6 foot 3, 240 pounds. (He has gained a little offseason weight, but certainly wears it well.) Most people think he belongs on the linebacker side of the ball, but his intention is to play college football as a running back.
There is no argument, however, as to his athletic ability. Sunday he ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and a 4.15-second 5-10-5-yard shuttle run, posted a 40.3-inch vertical jump and tossed the power ball 42 feet. Those totals gave him a national-leading Nike SPARQ score of 138.03, qualifying him for the second annual Nike “The Opening” event in Beaverton, Ore., this summer.
And get this, he wasn't happy with his score. He was shooting for a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash.
"My 40 ... we were practicing for so long and I just kept slipping out of my start," Henry said. "Once I got down about 20 yards I started going ... I qualified for Oregon so I'm just going to practice until that time.
"Last year I ran a 4.4 at Oregon. I guess everybody says I put on 12 pounds, but I know I can run a 4.4. On the track and on the field I've run a 4.3 so with laser time i know I can run a 4.4."
Henry finished third out of 150 of the nation's top prospects in the SPARQ Rating National Championship last summer at "The Opening" with a 138.51 rating.
On Saturday in Miami, Booker T. Washington LB Matthew Thomas became the first to qualify for Oregon with his SPARQ score of 108.36, which was good for No. 2 in the country at the time.
Henry’s performance stole the thunder from not only Thomas, but also three Central Florida athletes who had posted impressive scores prior to Henry's arrival.
For a brief period of time, St. Cloud WR Jordan Reus held the spot as the top scorer in the nation at 118.23, with the highlight of his score being the nation's fastest shuttle time of 3.90 seconds. Henry knocked the overall score from atop the perch, but Reus could still qualify for nationals.
Also posting high numbers at West Orange was S Sam Jallah of Apopka Wekiva High, with a SPARQ score of 105.78 and the top vertical leap in the nation this year at 42 inches. Dr. Phillips safety Matt Milano had a 105.51 score for third place overall.
"I'm feeling a lot better. I had an injury during the season so to be able to make a score like this .. still recovering, I'm really proud of myself," Jallah said.
2012 Nike SPARQ National Top 15
|Jordan Reus||St. Cloud||ORL||WR||2013||5-10||161||118.23|
|Diquan Gilbert||Philadelphia Comm Tech||PHL||DE||2013||5-11.5||194||112.05|
|David Williams||West Catholic||PHL||RB||2013||6-0.5||183||111.30|
|Pali Galdeira||St. Louis||HAW||S||2013||5-10||182||108.84|
|Matthew Thomas||Miami Booker T. Washington||MIA||LB||2013||6-3||201||108.36|
|Sam Jallah||Apopka Wekiva||ORL||S||2013||5-9||183||105.78|
|Matt Milano||Orlando Dr. Phillips||ORL||S||2013||6-0||194||105.51|
|Adam Lane||Winter Haven||ORL||RB||2013||5-8||216||103.47|
|Jacquez Bryant||Tallahassee FAMU High||ORL||LB||2013||6-0||176||102.63|
|Conner Bor||Voorhees (N.J.) Bishop Eustace||PHL||DB||2013||6-0||201||102.51|
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.