Virginia football kept up its recruiting momentum Tuesday by landing another immediately eligible rising senior in wideout Ra'Shaun Henry from St. Francis (Pa.).
On May 1, Mississippi State quarterback Keytaon Thompson said he would be joining the Wahoos for his final season, increasing the competition level at QB for presumed starter Brennan Armstrong, who is expected to take over for record-setter Bryce Perkins. Now Henry will do the same for a wide receiver room that lost graduated seniors Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed and their combined 2019 totals of 152 catches, 1,741 yards, and 13 touchdowns.
Henry, who stands tall at 6-foot-3 but is a bit slight at 195 pounds, caught only 19 passes from 2017-18 for the Red Flash. But last season, he busted out for 90 receptions, 1,118 yards, and nine touchdowns. At the FCS level nationally, Henry finished fourth in catches, 13th in receiving yards, and tied for 15th in touchdowns. Over the final five games of the season, Henry recorded 53 catches, 777 yards, and seven touchdowns.
That final five-game stretch reminded me instantly of Virginia rising senior wideout Terrell Jana's final six games of 2019, when he totaled 43 catches, 554 yards, and three scores. So imagine how productive Jana was for the 'Hoos, and Henry eclipsed that for the Red Flash.
The addition of Henry, who hails from Killeen, Texas, is huge for the Cavaliers, who don't return a lot of production after Jana's 73 catches. Rising junior Billy Kemp tallied 35 receptions, and classmate Tavares Kelly snagged 14. After that, no other player reached double-digit catches, with only rising sophomore Dontayvion Wicks scratching the box score with three. Virginia has some promising young prospects ready to hopefully step up and fill the void created with the exits of Dubois and Reed, but none of them has produced at the college level like Henry has.
One issue could be that Henry played on the FCS level and not at the FBS level, so that step up in competition could take some getting used to, so it would be great if he could get some practice in with his new teammates before the season begins. But we of course don't know when that will be possible given the pandemic, but hopefully Henry can make the most of his final season playing college football and help the 'Hoos at the same time. Dejon Brissett was a similarly talented FCS receiver who transferred to UVa for his final season last year after playing at Richmond. He only managed two catches in 2019, though, after recording 63 in 2017 for the Spiders. But he suffered a knee injury that wiped out almost his entire 2018 campaign, so he could have had a difficult time coming back from that.
The addition of Henry builds on Virginia's successful recruiting run. After landing Thompson on May 1, Virginia went on to pick up three pledges for the Class of 2021 before getting Henry today (all three-star prospects): Georgia linebacker West Weeks (May 2), Georgia defensive/offensive lineman Hugh Laughlin (May 7), and Virginia defensive back Aidan Ryan (May 10), who is from James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg.