One makes, the other breaks. Big performances in the running game earned these two college players featured spots in this week’s player awards. Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis was fundamental in the Hurricanes big win over Florida State. A few hundred miles North, Darrell Henderson was scoring touchdown after touchdown in Memphis’ blowout win over UConn.
Gerald Willis’ path to being a top player for Miami has been tumultuous to say the least. The Louisiana native started his college career by being dismissed by University of Florida and transferring to Miami. In 2016, Willis had MCL surgery that caused him to miss half of the season and he went on to miss all of 2017. Now, back and healthy, Willis has wracked up a mindboggling 12.5 TFLs and two sacks through six games. His performance against Florida State was that of a dominant run defender. The stout, 6’4”, 300 pounder was an absolute force on running downs and though he is hardly a standout pass rusher; his elite run defense will garner a lot of NFL notice.
The nation’s leading rusher was back doing what he does best against the UConn Huskies on Saturday. Despite only carrying the ball 14 times, Henderson picked up over 170 yards and three scores. The junior running back is now approaching 1,000 rushing yards on the season on only 79 carries. Yep! Despite carrying the ball less than 80 times, Henderson has scored 12 touchdowns on the ground and is averaging a ridiculous 11.8 yards per carry through six games. For good measure, Henderson is also averaging 19.8 yards per catch on nine carries and has scored two more touchdowns through the air this year. Henderson is the clear-cut weapon on offense for the Tigers and he should continue producing for the rest of the year. People will question the 5’9”, 200-pound back’s size, but it will be hard to question his effectiveness or playmaking ability.