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ODU linebacker Ryan Henry has come a long way from not even playing high school football

Don't let lack of experience fool you. Despite not playing competitively until high school, Henry is a forced to be reckoned with on the Monarchs defense.

NORFOLK, Va. — Is experience really everything? Well, that doesn't seem to be the case for ODU linebacker, Ryan Henry. There’s no doubt the Monarchs are motivated to prove themselves as members of a new conference this season, but there’s a different sort of fire lit under Henry, who began his football career later than most. 

“I was always one of the hardest hitters on the park as a little person in little league, so when I lost it in middle school and high school and when I got it back…” 

Yes, you read that right. Henry didn’t even play football in high school. 

“Growing up in a rough area with distractions, everybody tried their best to keep me focused, like my parents. It’s just all on me I just got distracted,” Henry said when asked why he didn't play.

His father played at the University of Miami and then professionally for the Miami Dolphins, so it's not surprising that when Henry enrolled in a JUCO and walked on the football team, it was a smooth transition.

“I always had it in my head and always wanted to play. I just had to stay focused and stay out of trouble."

“Any time we take reps away from him sometimes to help his body and things like that he’s not very pleased with us because he knows, ‘I didn’t have those reps before, I need every rep I can get,'” said head coach Ricky Rahne. 

ODU recruited Henry on a full scholarship in 2019 and redshirted his first year. Last season he was a defensive asset to the Monarchs starting 10 games and receiving Conference USA Honorable mention. Despite straying away from the game for a short while, he had every intention of finding his way back. 

According to Coach Rahne, this lack of experience actually serves him an advantage. 

“He constantly feels behind and he’s not, but that sense of angst and anxiousness is what makes him great. That's what’s making him a good football player, that's what makes him fly around the field," said Rahne. "He always feels like, 'I’m just a little bit behind, I don't have this, I don't have that,' and that sort of feeling is what makes him really good.” 

“I do feel as if I’m behind in a few things because I didn’t play," Henry said. "But I mean, my main goal now is to just focus on one day at a time just go 1-0. I got knocked off a little bit but I’m just grateful to be here now.” 

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