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Local

Henry, Perry hope to improve Central Michigan’s fortunes

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – In a sport that is dominated by change, during the 2013 football season, one thing was a constant for the Central Michigan University football team. Morris graduate Kevin Henry was the starter at right tackle.

Henry, listed at 6-foot-4 and 306 pounds, helped guide the Chippewas to a 6-6 record, including a 5-3 finish in the Mid-American Conference. However, Central Michigan was just 2-3 against MAC West opponents.

When Henry stepped into the starting role, he had sizeable shoes to fill. The Chippewas had lost the services of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs Eric Fisher at left tackle, as well as Darren Keyton, who started 13 games at right guard in 2012.

With this being his second year in the starting lineup, he hopes to leave a similar impression. But, he knows the big-picture goal starts with doing the little things right first. And they are things that he has heard from his days as a member of the Morris Redskins, when he was an Illinois High School Football Coaches’ Association Class 4A all-state honoree.

The Chippewas averaged 23.2 points a game last year, averaging 132.8 rushing yards and 208.3 passing yards. They ranked ninth in the MAC in total offense and seventh in scoring offense.

“Always, when I was behind those guys [Fisher and Keyton], I would think that my time would come if I would keep working hard, and I was given the opportunity,” Henry said. “I thought I played pretty well, for the most part. I made a few mistakes here and there, but overall, it was a really good season for me. We were able to get to six wins and played pretty well for most of the year. It was a good experience.”

Mike Cummings has been the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at CMU since 2010, one year before Henry arrived, originally intending to be used as a defensive lineman. Henry’s attitude when he was first moved from defense to offense helped sell Cummings that he could one day become a first-stringer.

“We were down a couple offensive linemen when he arrived. We were kind of gutted on the offensive line,” Cummings said. “I went to Kevin and said, ‘Would you mind moving?’ I can still remember him nodding his head and saying, ‘Sure,’ without a moment’s hesitation. Anybody that unselfish, that stays selfless and keeps it about the team, they can play anywhere.”

After redshirting in his freshman season (2010), Henry started the final four games of the year at right tackle in 2011 as a part of an offensive line that allowed just 17 sacks in 12 games. He played in all 12 of the Chippewas’ games in 2012, including a start at left tackle against UMass, a game in which CMU scored 42 points and got its sixth win of the season.

During practice this season, Henry may be called upon to block a familiar face. His former teammate in high school, Jeff Perry, will be on the Chippewas defense as a linebacker. Perry, listed at 6-foot-2 inches and 227 pounds, was a two-way standout as a linebacker and running back for Morris. He was redshirted last season, but is back on the field this year.

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