Forrest's Colin Henson continued the family legacy of playing collegiate football at Carson-Newman College when he accepted the Eagles' scholarship offer at a Thursday morning signing in Chapel Hill.
Henson's grandfather Norman and his father Jimmy also played on the gridiron at Burke-Tarr Stadium in Jefferson City.
"It is great to carry on the things they did in college. I am glad to have the opportunity to follow them. I went to Carson-Newman's homecoming game versus Lenoir-Rhyne and then went back two Saturdays ago and I knew it was the place I wanted to be. The atmosphere was great and they have a great coach (Ken Sparks) who has been there a long time," said Henson.
Sparks, who was recently part of a feature story in Sports Illustrated about coaching loyalties, has guided the Carson-Newman program for 27 years, capturing five national championships, four national runner-up finishes, 18 South Atlantic Conference (SAC) championships and 20 NAIA or NCAA playoff appearances.
Sparks has accumulated an incredible 259-62-2 record and is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division II and he is fourth in total wins among active coaches in all divisions of the NCAA behind St. John's (Minn.) John Gagliardi (431-117-11), Florida State's Bobby Bowden (358-105-4) and Penn State's Joe Paterno (352-117-3).
Henson was also recruited by Eastern Kentucky.
Henson was recently named the 2008 All-Region 5-A Back of the Year and was an all region selection in his junior year and an honorable mention pick as a sophomore. Henson quarterbacked the Rockets this season, rushing for 610 yards and throwing for 593. He also had 5 interceptions as a defensive back.
Jimmy Henson, the offensive coordinator this season at Forrest said, "Coach Sparks is a fine man, a Christian man. He told the entire group when we there a couple of weeks ago that first and foremost is God. That is the way his entire coaching staff approaches the game. History tells you that the Carson-Newman football program is in great shape."
"I am just proud that he is going there, regardless of playing any sport. We know he will get a good education at Carson-Newman," Jimmy added.
Clocked at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Henson will switch to wide receiver for the Eagles, an opportunity he relishes. "Being a quarterback was a lot of pressure," said the 6'2, 170 lb. athlete. "I have always liked playing wide receiver more. I feel I have the size to go up against some of the smaller cornerbacks and I will go up and get the ball if I have to."
Forrest head football coach Kyle Stacey said of his graduating signal caller, "We are going to miss Colin's leadership on the field, his knowledge of the game, and his composure under pressure. Colin is a playmaker; there is no doubt about that."
Forrest sported a 20-11 record with Henson in the starting lineup over the last three seasons with one play-off appearance in 2007.
Stacey added, "As a coaching staff, we are extremely proud of him as are his teammates. Colin is well deserving of this and this is a big step for our program for Colin to move on to the next level. This gives our younger players something to look at and they can see it is possible to go on and play at the next level."
Henson is a four-year letterman in football, baseball, and basketball at Forrest. He has a 3.7 GPA which ranks him 13th in the Class of 2009.
"I have always though about maybe playing baseball, but there is nothing like playing football and the adrenaline from the game. I did not want to pass this opportunity up," said the future Eagle.
Henson will study physical therapy at Carson-Newman and said, "I have been through a bunch of injuries in my career at Forrest and after I am done playing football, I want to help people get better from sports injuries."