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December 31, 2012
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As we start off 2013 officially, it's time to take a look at the top story from 2012.
Without a doubt - you know which story we're talking about. It's the one that grabbed the nation's attention and never let it go.
No. 1 - Derrick Henry smashes the record books.
Derrick Henry did it.
No one really thought he'd have a chance, I mean the odds were against him. Entering the season, Henry needed 3,495 yards to break the national rushing record, Henry needed to 'average' 349 yards a game - or make a serious playoff run - to break Ken Hall's national record.
Considering the most yards Henry gained in a season was 2689 his sophomore year - well, let's just say everyone was watching ]Kelvin Taylor more than Henry.
Then it began to fall into place.
Opening the season against 6A state runner-up Gainesville, Henry broke loose for 336 yards against a very good defense. The next week - it was 242 against an out-manned Potter's House - a game Henry only played a half in.
Game three was against 5A South Lake and Henry raced for 303 yards. So in three games, the phenom had 881 yards.
Then game the Andrew Jackson game.
Henry raced for a state-record 502 yards and six touchdowns and - the race was on.
"I really credit my offensive line, my team and my coach," said the ever-humble Henry. "If they don't do their job, I can't get any yards."
Twice more in the regular season, Henry would rush for over 400 yards. Once in the post-season - against Taylor County.
It was in that game - on a spectacular 52-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of the first round playoff game - and gave Yulee a lead they would never relinquish.
The Hornets went on to make it to the state semi-finals before falling to Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles 45-35 - and Henry ran for over 300 yards in that game too.
Anyone who has watched Henry, from his Pop Warner days when they had to produce copies of his birth certificate to dispel rumors that he was 'too old' - to his middle school days when the principal at Yulee Middle would ask the coach to 'pull him out' so the other teams wouldn't complain.
Henry has always been an enigma, standing taller than the other players.
He's used that to his advantage, able to see gaps in the defense and find holes where there are none.
He's tall, solid and fast.
He reminds me of another 'Henry' - Travis Henry from Frostproof.
In fact, he broke Travis Henry's record for single-season rushing totals - along with Ken Hall's 49 year mark for career rushing.
He not only broke them - he shattered them. The new mark stands at 12,232. The single-season mark - 4,261.
The only thing Derrick Henry didn't accomplish is play in and win a state championship.
He'll have plenty of opportunities to get a ring, as he enrolls at the University of Alabama January 4.
And then stars in the US Army All-American Bowl.