By: Taylor Chapman, GPAC Intern
Colby Henderson is coming into his senior season with the Morningside Mustangs coming off arguably the best season of his life earning accolades you dream of as a kid.
Henderson, the reigning GPAC Defensive Player of the Year and Beyond Sports Network NAIA National Defensive Player of the Year, was an electric defensive back and special teams player for the Mustangs last year. Henderson led the nation with eleven interceptions. Four of those picks he returned for touchdowns in leading the Mustangs to the 2011 GPAC Football Championship. Playing a big role for the Mustangs already, going into the 2012 season you would think it could not increase much more. But, for those of you who know Colby he is willing to do whatever it takes. Morningside Coach Steve Ryan acknowledges, "Colby is a great team player, and has never done anything to increase his so called ‘stage', he just wants best for the team."
Morningside has been going through many changes, one big one transitioning Joel Nixon to quarterback from wide receiver. One day, a common joke between the coaching staff and Henderson about playing wide receiver was about to become a reality. Coach Ryan approached Colby about playing wide receiver this season. "I thought they were joking," stated Henderson. But, this time it was not a joke. They were serious. Colby Henderson was going to be a dual threat for the Mustangs at defensive back and wide receiver.
"Colby is so talented, and helps us in so many ways. He has the ability to do a lot of things," stated Coach Ryan about Henderson's versatility. Henderson's role on the offensive end is minimal right now, but his affect on the game is not. In just three short games at wide receiver he has three catches for 131 yards and a 43.7-yard average. Just like Coach Ryan said, "He (Henderson) makes significant plays." Henderson is also making his name known on defense and special teams. Colby averages 32.7 yards per kick return and 81.8 all-purpose yards per game. He is yet to make a signature interception, but his impact is not unknown.
This has not been an easy transition for Henderson though, as his time at defensive back has stayed the same, but has had to learn a whole new position. "Learning the plays has been the toughest for me. I understand the defense, but now I have to learn where to line up, my route, blocking, etc.," Henderson stressed. It is going to take time, but in comes the old saying, "practice makes perfect". Coach Ryan has complete faith in Henderson, but notes his biggest challenge. "He (Henderson) is going to have to use practice time and learn the new skill set." Colby is embracing the challenge.
Colby realizes that he has the abilities and the chance to do something one does not see everyday. "It is pretty rare, so I am very excited to do something special, and help my team in whatever way," specified Henderson. In todays world of specializing in sports, this is not something you see everyday; an elite college football player playing both sides of the ball, and excelling. The reigning Beyond Sports Network NAIA Defensive Player of the Year is not so concerned with what he is doing, but rather the team. Coach Ryan compliments, "He is a great team player."
Photo from Tri State Photos, Dr. Gene Knudsen