Editor’s Note: This was written and sent to Branded by Jay Henry. He is the former Sports Info Director for ICC and was featured in Last Chance U.
With the premiere of Netflix’s Last Chance U in the rearview, there may be some fans asking questions about quarterback Malik Henry. Questions such as what happened, what went wrong or how did his skill set go down so much within one year? Currently Malik is competing for the starting quarterback position at the University of Nevada after a successful walk-on, but here’s what you probably didn’t know about the situation at Independence.
Growing up in Inglewood, California, Henry played football at a very high level in high school, not for just one high school but two. After playing at Westlake Oaks Christian as a sophomore and junior, Henry would finish his prep career at Long Beach Poly in the fall of 2015 as one of the nation’s top and most sought after college prospect.
Before the following fall, Henry made the decision on ESPN of committing to play for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State University. Highly praised upon arrival, (Malik) Henry was expected to do many big things and to some had potential of being the next Jameis Winston at the ACC school. With all the pressure on the young gunslinger, the adrenaline began to surge from all of the hype and unfortunately, he wound up making some poor decisions that led to his dismissal.
Down on his luck, Henry was eager to find a new home searching for anywhere to give him an opportunity at redemption. Malik would transfer to Independence Community College in Kansas where he would play for the Pirates under then head coach Jason Brown. America got its first glimpse of Henry as a college QB on Season 3 of the hit series as they highlighted his cannon arm and elite skill set before a season ending injury, but also fans could see there was something else going on which caused him to return to Independence, more matured and polished for the following season, but as a practice player to help with the other signal callers.
Henry would play this role through the first two games, before being called up for the game against Garden City amidst injuries and other factors. Against Garden City, Henry looked like a savant throwing a missile of a touchdown pass on the very first play from scrimmage. The Pirates would climb to a 21-3 lead at the half, but a kick return to start the second half would spark a comeback and shock the Pirates in the worst way possible.
The next week, Independence would face off with a winless Fort Scott team. Seeing Henry’s play the previous week, fans were certain things would get better but alas it was not to be. Henry would throw three interceptions in a 33-0 beatdown of the Pirates dropping them to 1-3 on the season. Many thought this was a how the mighty have fallen case with Florida State bounce back, but it wasn’t all on him as the defense just gave out from being on the field so much, there were missed blocks on the offensive line and some receivers failed to get the routes down in time.
Malik is a very talented athlete with impressive skills. He just needs the right team around him. The Malik that America saw on season 3 is not the same person that I interacted with while working at ICC. The young man has gone through a lot of obstacles and challenges in the past few years, and even though he’s not at a ‘Power Five’ program, he is still at the highest-level playing Division 1 football in the Mountain West Conference and has earned his redemption. Regardless of him making it at the next level, he will be just fine as he wishes to become a coach one day and impact others lives by giving back to the younger generation.