Prep football: The 'sky is the limit' for Hurricane's Hensley
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hurricane Coach Jeremy Taylor has informed the bigger colleges within the state that they will have to offer a scholarship for the services of senior Austin Hensley to attend their school.
The second-year Redskins coach is certainly glad, though, he gets the opportunity to have Hensley's skill set on his team for free.
Hensley, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound quarterback, is coming off an impressive junior season that saw him throw for 2,200 yards, second best of any of the state's returning quarterbacks.
Jarrod Kellar of Class AA Lincoln passed for 2,302 yards, but Hensley is far and away the leading returner in Class AAA with over 600 yards separating him from South Charleston's Kentre Grier (1,549).
Hensley will look to improve on those numbers and lead the Redskins to the playoffs all four of his years at the school when Hurricane opens its season on Friday, Aug. 30 at home against Huntington.
"I told Marshall and WVU 'you're not getting him for free,'" Taylor said. "He is going to play somewhere at the next level. Someone smart will pick him up."
Taylor believes Hensley has all the tools to succeed this season and collegiately.
"He is tall enough, has a cannon for an arm and can run," Taylor said. "He's a leader and brings a drive to win. That drive willed us to a couple wins last year.
Hensley made second team All-State honors last season in Class AAA and was a Daily Mail preseason first team all-state pick.
"Austin coming back is huge," Taylor said. "He led the area in passing. Last year he was the best quarterback in the state, I don't care. He led the best conference in the state in passing."
Hensley has steadily increased his numbers in every season at the helm of the Redskins offense. As a sophomore, he threw for 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last year, Hensley passed for 2,302 yards and 21 scores.
"His first season, they were more of a running team, and he was just a sophomore," Taylor said. He was just expected to manage the game, not lose it, don't throw interceptions and hand it off mostly.
"Last year, he was expected to win the game and he did that for the most part. He did a good job and never lost any game for us. He did everything we expected and did a great job."
Hensley knows even more is expected of him this season.
"I'm tremendously excited, it's my senior year," Hensley said. "It's the last shot to go out and give it everything I got to try and lead us to state championship."
Hensley has high hopes for not just himself, but the team.
"Things went pretty good last year, and the sky is the limit this season," Hensley said. "I'd like to get about 3,000 yards passing or more. I believe we can be one of the best in the state passing-wise."
Hensley has several weapons at his disposal, especially in Zach Pate, a multi-dimensional talent who rushed for 700 yards and had 644 receiving yards with 13 total touchdowns. Hensley also has three 3-year starters back on the offensive line protecting him.
Throughout all his individual successes, Hensley is still focused on trying to guide the Redskins past the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the first time.
"Individually, I think I've done pretty good," Hensley said. "You have to always stay humble and hungry and better yourself every day. That is my motto. I want to help lead this team to a state championship."
After the season Hensley will turn his attention to college football.
He attended the West Virginia University Prospect Camp in late July and was named Most Valuable Player among the 310 players from surrounding states.
"It was sweet," Hensley said. "There were a lot of kids and talent. I got to talk to all the coaches. They were very interested in me and are going to come watch me this year.
"It's been my dream since day one to go out and get a scholarship. Getting my school paid for is a big deal to me. DI (Football Bowl Subdivision) is the main goal, but if a D2 or D3 offered me a full scholarship, I'd just have to weigh my options."