Anthony Henry, FS/CB 1997-2000
Like Chad Barnhardt, Anthony Henry was one of the players who took a leap of faith and decided to sign on with the new football program at South Florida. He committed to the Bulls out of Estero High School as part of USF's first recruiting class in 1996, and joined the team for the practice season that September. Henry then took his place in the secondary when the games began in 1997.
Henry played his first three seasons at free safety, where he played in 31 out of 33 games (he missed two with an injury). Henry was the team's first-ever Defensive MVP in 1997, and he collected five interceptions, 14 pass breakups, five fumble recoveries, and 216 tackles. He had 18 tackles in one game against James Madison in 1999, which is still tied for the team record in a regulation game.
Before I get into Henry's senior season, let me ask you a question. What were you doing in the spring of 2000? I think I took 12 credit hours, kept a part-time job, participated in SG, watched a mess of basketball games, and commuted across town from my parents' house to USF almost every day. Maybe you were doing something similar to me. If you were, YOU WERE A DAMNED SLACKER, and here's why. In order to get another year of eligibility, Henry had to graduate after the spring semester. So he took a brutal 22-credit-hour courseload to get to the magic number of 120, and got through all of it so he could play in the fall. On top of that, he switched from safety to cornerback in spring practice. And then all Henry did in the 2000 season was start all 11 games at corner, collect 40 tackles, five interceptions (more than the rest of the team combined), break up eight more passes, recover a fumble, and basically take away his side of the field from opponents.
Henry was drafted in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, and he got himself noticed in a hurry with 10 interceptions in his rookie season. It tied him with Ronde Barber for the league lead, and made him one of only seven players in the 2000s to hit double-digit interceptions in a season. He played for the Browns from 2001-04, then moved to Dallas for four more seasons, where he got to play along side fellow USF alum Mike Jenkins in 2008 (the first instance of two former Bulls playing on the same team -- later duplicated by George Selvie and Jerome Murphy with the 2010 Rams). He played last season for the Detroit Lions, and is currently a free agent. In his nine NFL seasons, Henry has 502 tackles, 31 interceptions, and three touchdowns, and he is neck and neck with Kawika Mitchell for the USF alum who has had the most distinguished NFL career.
As one of the original members of USF football, Anthony Henry's place in Bulls history was already secure. But as the best of those original players, he'll be remembered for a long, long time. If you'd like to learn about the first recruiting class and the 15 so-called "Bullblazers" who made it all the way through, read the story on Page 1 of the 2000 USF media guide.