Ra’Shaun Henry: Mr. Touchdown

ra'shaun henry
Ra’shaun Henry. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Ra’Shaun Henry is the 2021 Cris Carter. Chris Berman would love him.

Cue highlight: “All Ra’Shaun Henry does is catch touchdowns!”

Henry has nine catches in his UVA career. Five have gone for touchdowns, including a five-yarder in Virginia’s 43-0 win over William & Mary in Week 1.

“It sounds like we need to throw it to him more. That wasn’t a statistic I was aware of,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Which, come on. Mendenhall is the numbers-guy coach.

He had to know.

A reporter pressed the coach on what makes Henry a good red-zone target.

“You know, sometimes if there are other established receivers, and if there’s other patterns that become predictable, then sometimes defenses play harder to the percentages, or they favor where maybe typically we go, and so sometimes a great complement emerges if over things are overplayed,” Mendenhall said.

“I think that’s part of it, where he’s been the complement. But now he’s emerging not as the complement but as a primary threat, so it’ll be fun to see where the statistics go. But he’s capable, and I would consider him the most improved player, and I thought he was becoming a strong player through the year last year and toward the end. He’s starting at a much higher level than that, so I have a lot of confidence in Ra’Shaun, and really excited for him.”

Henry, it had been said back in the spring, had emerged as a go-to guy in the UVA receiving corps, after a quiet 2020, in which he had just seven catches in nine games, four of them for TDs.

Henry had 90 catches for 1,118 yards and nine TDs at St. Francis in 2019 before transferring to Virginia last summer, so he’s familiar with what it takes to be a featured guy.

It just took some time to adjust to the speed of the game at the FBS level.

“I feel like FCS isn’t that much different between the skill guys, but it’s a lot faster, I feel like,” Henry said. “So, just getting adjusted to the speed of the game, and you know, stuff like that, yeah, the speed of the game, and the competition obviously rises at a different level. I would say, yeah, those two things.”

He spent the spring and summer getting himself ready to be a bigger part of the offense.

You know. Than just scoring touchdowns.

“I feel like my role is supposed to be bigger than last year,” Henry said. “I feel like I can bring a lot more than what I did last year as well. And then just whenever the ball comes my way, if I catch it, and you know, if it’s a touchdown, it’s a touchdown, if it’s not a touchdown, then, you know, it’s not, so I just go by every play and keep working.”

Story by Chris Graham

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