Week 5 Player Profile - Drew Henson
#11 I Drew Henson
FOOTBALL PROFILE: The Basics
Year: Senior (Class of 2023)
Weight: 195 pounds
Experience/accomplishments: Second-Team All-State by Associated Press; Big Southeast District Special Teams Player of the Year; All-Big Southeast District
2021 Stats: 9-for-10 FG, 29-for-31 XPTS
2022 Stats: 3-for-4 FG, 11-for-12 XPTS; 30.5 AVG YDS/Punt
INTRODUCTION: 5 Quick Questions
Q: Why did you choose your number?
“It was my dad’s college number when he played at New Mexico State. And then my brother wore it for his senior year as well, so it just made sense.”
Q: What is your favorite uniform combination?
“All black. I think it looks sleek.”
Q: Do you have any family connection to the OHS football program?
“My brother was an all-state soccer player his senior year and also played baseball and, obviously, football (for Owatonna).”
Q: Are you involved in any other sports or activities?
“I also play soccer. I have been on the varsity team for two years now. I play center back and played baseball my freshman year and might play again this spring.”
Q: Memorable phase frequently used by any coach:
“’Ball, set’ is imprinted in my head from all punt teams and (coach Wanous) screaming it into my ears every time. It gets me ready to hit a bomb.’”
INTERVIEW: Getting to Know FIRST LAST
Q: I know a lot of people didn’t know in the offseason that you were working on punting, so how did it feel to finally get into the season and get going? What was it like when you had to make that first punt in live, game action?
“It all started last year with Eli (Knutson) and they wanted one of us to punt. I gave it a shot and was a little too scared and a little too slow back then, so it worked better for (Knutson) to slide into it and take that spot. And then this offseason it was really just me and my dad (Garrett) talking one day and he asked me: ‘Do you want to do it — do you want to punt?’ And I said ‘Yes.’ Then he started working with me and I also worked with (former Minnesota Gopher kicker) Emmett Carpenter and it all sort of came together. And now I have that over my brother (Sam). I mean, he can’t ever say that he punted at all, so I already beat him in that stat category at least. And then, coming into the season, it’s been real fun. I get to be on the field more, which is always fun. I like it because it takes a tad more skill than kickoffs, especially when you have the directional punts.”
Q: I never thought about that, but it’s a totally different skillset. What are the major differences between punting and field goal kicking and kickoffs?
“When I go out onto the field for a field goal, I never have anything in my head. But when I punt, I have one tiny thing, it’s ‘inside out.’ It’s about trying to keep that leg straight and then the ball goes straight. You don’t want to shank it and have it sail out of bounds and get screamed at when I get back to the sideline. I try and avoid that when at all possible. And then, the hold is probably the most important thing along with the drop. Because if I mess up the drop, the whole thing gets messed up — the ball probably isn’t going anywhere, maybe 10 yards.”
Q: What was the first thing you had to learn when you started punting?
“It is a completely new swing. All I have done my whole life in soccer and football is swing straight on my right side and follow through. Now I have to go straight back and straight forward, and if you alter that in any way, it is going to change the flight of the ball. I had to learn an entirely new way of swinging my leg, which is not something I ever thought I would have to do. It’s not a fun thing to learn at this stage and it just felt odd right away. And then, when I go back to doing field goals or kickoffs, I need to remember to swing my leg a completely different way.”
Q: Did you have any nerves going out there to punt after that first series against Mayo in Week 1? Did you feel like that was going to be a big mental hurdle?
“I wanted our offense to score, but I was beyond excited to go out there and punt. There weren’t really any nerves. I was excited. No one really knew that I was punting, expect for my family and the coaches, so I was just excited to finally get out there and let one go.”
Q: Now, switching gears a little to field goal kicking and kickoffs. That’s where you dedicated your offseason and that’s what you’ll do at the next level. Last year you were nearly perfect. You only missed one field goal and hit something like 95% of your extra points. How do you go about managing expectations this season when you are coming off what was arguably the best kicking season in school history?
“I mean, I had to keep my head on straight and it’s not about trying to improve, it’s about continuing what I did last season. It’s about keeping the same mindset throughout the entire year — don’t try to get ahead of myself. I can’t go out there telling myself ‘I have to make this because I made it last year.’ It’s the same kick every time. I just have to keep my head down and swing at the ball.”
Q: You’re taking a lot of (college) visits. Have you started narrowing why type of school you might want to attend, not necessarily the exact school? What type of things are important to you when sifting through your offers?
A: “A lot of colleges I have visited have been in towns a lot bigger than Owatonna. I mean, I have grown up in a town of about 30,000 and I’d like to be in a place a tad bigger than that. I would want to go somewhere with a larger population and see what it’s like to live somewhere in a bigger city. That way, I’ll kind of have a good idea after I graduate (from college) if I want to stay in a place that is bigger or maybe come back to a smaller town.”
Q: Have you thought about when you want to have your college decision solidified?
A: “It will definitely be after the season. I don’t see a point in doing it right now. After the season, I will talk to a few more coaches and take a few more visits and then I am hoping no later than Christmas, but you never really know what is going to happen.”