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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
QB Henry has dual-threat, dual-sport goals

By Blair Angulo

When the next big thing in Southern California recruiting isn’t standing behind center, he’s in the middle of the baseball diamond, staring down batters from the pitching mound.

Malik Henry
Class of 2016 signal-caller Malik Henry was offered by the Trojans last week.
Class of 2016 dual-threat quarterback Malik Henry, a budding two-sport star, has emerged on the radar of college football coaches, most recently those at USC, which offered him a scholarship last week. Henry turned in an eyebrow-raising performance at the Elite 11 Los Angeles regional earlier this year, shining in an event that also featured USC commit Ricky Town, Notre Dame commit Blake Barnett and ESPN 300 signal-caller Brady White, among others.

At the Pylon Elite West Coast Regional 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas last weekend, the 6-foot-2, 174-pound Henry showed the composure of an upperclassman and a strong arm.

Henry, despite his sudden rise on the local football landscape, doesn’t intend to step off the pitching rubber.

“Baseball was my first sport when I was younger, but now it’s starting to be all football,” Henry says. “I hope to play baseball in college as well. That’s what I’m going to base my decision on.”

USC, BYU, Colorado and UCLA already believe in Henry -- the football player -- with those four making up his offer sheet. His combination of speed, athleticism and savvy figure to draw many more suitors in the coming months. In the other sport, the dynamic athlete believes his curveball is the best pitch in his arsenal -- which is truly noteworthy considering the zip he produces on the gridiron.

“I’m real confident with that pitch,” Henry says. “I can throw the curveball first pitch or late in the count.”

USC dealt its own spinner last week when a recruiting assistant escorted Henry from the sideline onto the Trojans’ practice field to meet with coach Steve Sarkisian.

“I shook his hand, we introduced each other and he told me he would like to offer me,” Henry recalled. “He told me he wants to make me the next great Trojans quarterback. It was really exciting.”

The latest offer could be an indication of a looming shift in USC’s recruiting philosophy at the quarterback position. The Trojans signed dual-threat prospect Jalen Greene in the 2014 class, but have a prototypical pocket passer in Town spearheading the 2015 group. Max Browne, one of the jewels in the 2013 class, is also considered to fit the mold of a traditional pocket passer.

Henry completed 60 percent of his pass attempts for 2,362 yards and 21 touchdowns, also adding four rushing scores in guiding Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake to an 8-3 record as a sophomore last fall. He did not play baseball as a freshman last spring due to restrictions stemming from his transfer.

“I’m really excited about the USC offer,” Henry said. “I love the coaching staff and I love the offense. I would fit in well in that offense. I still have no favorites and I won’t make a decision until later on down the road, but when I take my visits, I’ll find out which schools I really like and which coaching staffs are really interested in me. I’ll know who is really looking out for me and I’ll go from there.”

Henry got a head start on that process by spending a day at USC last week, getting familiar with new staff members and touring the campus.

“I learned that I fit in perfect there,” Henry says. “We run the same offense at Westlake. Coach Sarkisian is good friends with our coach, Jim Benkert, and they run a very similar offense. We went over some plays with quarterbacks coach Clay Helton on his white board. They are a pass-first team, but it’s not a full-on Oregon spread.

“I had never been in the facility, so that was really nice. The weight room is really cool; the lounge and the locker room are all very nice.”

Though Henry likes the Trojans and Bruins early on, he won't rush a decision. Town is solidly committed to USC and Rosen could be headed to UCLA, but the top two quarterbacks in the 2015 class won’t dissuade the next big thing from considering the local schools.

“I like to compete,” Henry says. “I’ll compete with anybody. I’m not afraid of competition.”

Henry also isn't afraid of chasing dual-sport aspirations, wherever that might be.