College Sports in the Carolinas
Watch for Al Myatt's
profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in this summer's
from the East
Monday, July 26, 2004
By Al Myatt
Focused L-Train stays on
Dan Marino was known for throwing bombs for the Miami Dolphins. Running back
Ricky Williams dropped one on the NFL team over the weekend.
Williams, who once was pictured in a wedding dress in Sports Illustrated
after being drafted by the New Orleans Saints, has apparently decided to
divorce himself from football. Williams has indicated he's through playing
after five seasons as a pro, a stunning announcement that would appear to
have huge implications for former East Carolina running back Leonard Henry.
"It's very shocking news," said Henry as he headed to Greenville to pick up
some things on Sunday.
Henry will return to his hometown of Clinton before leaving for Miami on
Tuesday. The Dolphins open training camp in Davie, Fla., on Friday.
Henry, who dressed for three games with Miami in his second season with the
club last season, will move from third team to second team at tailback —
behind Travis Minor — in the near term.
After an NFL record 775 carries over the last two seasons that produced
3,225 yards, Williams, the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Texas, is
intent on continuing a globetrotting vacation and leaving the Dolphins to
hastily reinvent their offensive philosophy.
While the Dolphins explore means to compensate for the exit of a major
offensive weapon, Henry is keeping a balanced perspective.
"Personally, my approach will be the same," said Henry, who ran for 1,432
yards for ECU in 2001 and is second on the Pirates' career rushing list with
3,089 yards. "A lot of people have been asking me how this will affect me.
But I'm just going to do what the Dolphins ask me to do, whether that's
playing on special teams or running the football.
"If it's meant for me to run the football then that's what will happen. It's
in God's hands. My approach hasn't changed at all. I have the same focus."
Williams' focus obviously changed in the offseason.
"I really don't know what was going through Rick's head," Henry said. "I've
gotten to know him over the last two years but there was nothing to pinpoint
that would have let me know this was coming. He's the best back in the NFL
and I've learned so much from him.
"Only he knows and God knows why it worked out this way. ... It's a shock
Henry is 26 years old and wears No. 26 for the Dolphins. Listed at 6-foot-1
and 210 pounds, Henry was a seventh round draft choice by Miami in 2002, the
Dolphins using a pick obtained from the Chicago Bears as part of the Cade
McNown trade. In 2002, Henry's preseason totals included 31 yards on 21
carries and three receptions for 42 yards.
Henry was waived by the Dolphins as a rookie on Sept. 1, 2002, but was
signed to the practice squad the following day. He was signed to Miami's
53-man roster in December of 2002 but was inactive for the last four games
of that season.
Henry's preseason numbers were better in 2003 — 162 yards and two touchdowns
on 32 attempts with three catches for 16 yards — but he didn't see any
regular season action. He was allocated to the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL
Europe this past spring and had 188 yards and three TDs on 36 attempts with
nine receptions for 87 yards before being sidelined after three games with a
strained groin. He was NFL Europe offensive player of the week after rushing
for 114 yards and two TDs on 19 carries, along with three catches for 60
yards in a 34-11 win over Amsterdam.
Henry has recovered from the injury that shortened his season overseas.
"I'm 100 percent," he said. "I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to doing
whatever the Dolphins want me to do."
With Williams' weekend bombshell, Miami may be wanting more from its former
ECU coach John Thompson likely is much more confident about dealing with the
loss of strong side linebacker Ike Emodi than the Dolphins are at this point
in adjusting to the absence of Williams.
The report week before last that Emodi was leaving due to academic issues
before his senior season was taken in stride by the second-year Pirates
"We're prepared to deal with it," Thompson said Saturday. "We'll move
Dashaun Stephens to strong side and Mickey McCoy to weak side. It could have
been a good year for Ike, but we'll have a strong group of linebackers even
McCoy was second on the team in tackles in 2003 as a safety with involvement
in 105 stops, including 64 solo tackles. Stephens had 21 solo tackles and
nine assists as a linebacker. He was credited with 3.5 tackles for loss.
Pirate players report to campus on Aug. 9 and practice is scheduled to start
on Aug. 10. ... Although there have been reports that linebacker Quentin
Cotton of High Point Andrews has become academically eligible for the 2004
season as a freshman, he will apparently enroll as an academic
non-qualifier. ... Coach Thompson made a guest appearance at the Cape Fear
Wildcats' arena football game in Fayetteville on Saturday. Although former
Pirate Torey Morris had four catches for 27 yards, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Pioneers ended a 9-game Wildcats' winning streak with a 53-46 victory. ...
ECU alumnus Roddy Jones, whose company built the upper deck at Dowdy-Ficklen
Stadium, may buy the Wildcats and move them to Albany, Ga., according to
reports. ... Preseason rankings by Athlon magazine have ECU picked ninth
among 11 teams in C-USA. Athlon's projected order of finish is Texas
Christian, Memphis, Southern Miss, Louisville, UAB, South Florida, Houston,
Cincinnati, ECU, Tulane and Army.
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02/23/2007 12:46:04 AM