This time last year, McKinney North star senior wide receiver J.J. Henry was focused on having a spectacular junior campaign on the heels of a very solid sophomore season.
Last fall, as a key cog on one of the most explosive offenses in the state, Henry was a matchup nightmare for Bulldog opponents — rolling up 71 receptions for 1,397 yards (19.7 per catch) and 16 touchdowns. By the time North’s season finished in the area round, Henry had the most receiving yards and touchdowns in Bulldogs history. The pass-catcher produced the most all-around prolific receiving season in McKinney ISD history, was named co-offensive player of the year in his district and to the first team of the Star Local Media all-area team.
“Last season was about showing that hard work pays off. I knew I was going to eventually get some recognition, but I’m still focused on getting better and helping my team win games,” Henry said. “Heading into this season, I’m focused on producing at an even higher clip because that’s what great players do, and I want to prove to everyone last season wasn’t all about just putting up numbers but becoming a better player”.
Fast-forward to now, Henry’s elite ability to run routes and make spectacular catches, in addition to having a penitent for making big plays when his number is called, has made him one of the best receivers in the state.
As a result, Henry’s profile has skyrocketed nationally as he now has 21 scholarship offers and counting, highlighted by Power Five schools Florida State, Colorado, TCU, Baylor and Texas A&M, among others.
“I want everyone to know me and know that I’m a good player, but my main focus right now is to keep working hard and to help my team win games just like we did last season in winning district,” Henry said. “It means a lot to me to have a chance to go down as one of the best receivers in McKinney history, so I know must perfect my craft to fully complete my transition from a little basketball guy to a big-time football playmaker.”
With the biggest year of his career on the horizon, Henry will do so without his biggest supporter after the recent passing of his mother, Tanika Terrell Matlock. But just like he did in 2019 after the tragic death of teammate and friend Aaron Hill, Henry plans to use his mother’s passing as an inspiration to fully reach his potential.
“I dedicated last season to my fallen brother Aaron Hill, but it’s different now because with my mom gone, I’m going to have to go even harder to make sure I’m making her proud,” Henry said. “My mom was truly inspiring, as she was my rock and biggest supporter. Everything I do on and off the field now is to represent her and make her proud.
“I know wherever I end up going to school will make her happy because that’s what she wanted.”