Batesville player headed to L.A.

Published 4:52 pm Monday, April 29, 2019

Former South Panola running back was bowling when call came

By Brad Greer and Myra Bean

From Batesville to Memphis to the City of Angels, Darrell Henderson has made it to the big time.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The former South Panola and Memphis All-American running back was enjoying a night out bowling in Oxford Friday night when the Los Angeles Rams called to say they were selecting him with their third round pick in the National Football League draft.

Henderson played at South Panola from 2011 to 2014 and in his senior season he led the Tigers to a 15-0 record and a state championship, scoring the winning touchdown against Oak Grove in overtime.

Henderson’s family and friends had been anxiously watching the draft live on ESPN since Thursday night when the annual selection show kicked off in Nashville.

The defending National Football Conference  champion Rams chose Henderson in the third round despite many locals hoping the running back would have been a second rounder.

Henderson didn’t mind though, as long he was drafted. The former Tiger had been told he was too small to play in the Southeastern Conference – he wanted to play at Ole Miss or Mississippi State out of his school – and he turned to the University of Memphis for a scholarship.

Henderson excelled with the Memphis Tigers, setting several school, conference, and national rushing records.

He led all of college football in yards per carry in 2018. He rushed for 1,909 yards (2nd in nation) and 25 touchdowns, and racked up 2,328 all purpose yards.

He was the third running back taken in the draft behind first round pick Josh Jacobs (Oakland Raiders) and Penn State’s Miles Sanders, who went the following round to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Rams were one of the last teams Henderson visited prior to the draft and the management was quick to welcome him.

Quarterback Jared Goff and backfield running mate Todd Gurley immediately placed calls to him Friday, welcoming him to the organization.

Henderson is the sixth South Panola football standout to have his name called during the NFL draft. The others are: Dwayne Rudd (1997 Vikings),  Deshea Townsend (1998 Steelers), Peria Jerry (2008 Falcons), Jamarca Sanford (2008 Vikings), John Jerry (2009 Dolphins).

Also, from North Panola High School, Tony Johnson was drafted in the late 1990s.

Several other Panola County players have played for NFL teams undrafted, having earned contracts on a free agency basis, including Kory Chapman, Josh Bright, Antuian Bradford, Eddie Strong, Jamarcus Hardrick, Marvin Burdette, among others.

Some players have also played professionally in Europe and Canada.