More than any other sport, football brings together players from all walks of life striving to attain a common goal. A football locker room is one of the most unique in sports — and Trulon Henry’s journey to Champaign was one of the most unique in program history.
Raised in Washington, D.C., Henry — the older brother of former Fighting Illini receiver Arrelious Benn — transferred to Illinois following two seasons at the College of DuPage, the latter of which merited NJCAA All-American accolades. But Henry’s college football career got a rather late start due to a five-year prison sentence for armed robbery. His arrest, and subsequent reclamation story, was chronicled on BTN in 2009 (seen below).
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker finished the 2010 season fifth on the team in tackles (64), recorded a team-high three interceptions, and was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. Henry was elected a team captain for the 2011 season (at age 26) and played in 11 games with 10 starts. He recorded 41 tackles (3.5 TFLs), three pass breakups, and three interceptions — including a pick-six versus South Dakota State. He returned from a hand injury to help Illinois defeat UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, his final collegiate game.
Henry proved to be a very productive player for Ron Zook (and Vic Koenning for the aforementioned Fight Hunger Bowl), totaling 105 tackles (6.5 TFLs), five interceptions, 11 PBUs, two forced fumbles & a fumble recovery in two seasons with the Illini.
His story of perseverance & fortitude should serve as inspiration to all of us that you can overcome adversity to find success in life, and that your past doesn’t define your future.