Former West Forsyth standout K.J. Henry drafted by Washington Commanders
Published 10:21 pm Monday, May 1, 2023
K.J. Henry wore No. 5 on the gridiron at West Forsyth. He wore No. 5 during his career at Clemson.
So, maybe it was appropriate that Henry was selected in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft last Saturday by the Washington Commanders, fulfilling a lifelong dream to hear his name called into the professional football ranks.
Perhaps even more appropriate is that his father, Keith, is an avid fan of the Commanders, and broke out wearing a Commanders jersey once the family heard K.J. name announced last weekend.
Adrian Snow, the former coach at West, got to spend time with K.J. and his family following the announcement.
“This kid is going to change the world,” Snow said. “He really is. He’s just a great, great young man who not only is a heck of a football player, but he’s also an even better human being. He can go and do something to help the poorest of the poor and in about 30 minutes, everybody’s going to end up loving him. And he can leave there, put on a black tie, go to a black-tie dinner and be there for 30 minutes and everybody’s going to love him. He just has a special ability to connect with people, and we aren’t even talking about what kind of player he is yet.”
He was a three-time ACC Honor Roll selection (2019-21), won the 2021 P.A.W. Journey P.A.T. Man of the Year award and helped donate five figures to create the 1 CLEM5ON endowment in November 2022 to benefit Clemson University’s Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center and Clemson Athletics’ “Hear Her Roar” campaign.
Henry arrived at West Forsyth as a sophomore after playing his first season at Forsyth Country Day.
Snow said the physical tools were already there, but that Henry was trying to find his place among his new teammates.
Then after what Snow called “the play” happened, Henry’s career as a Titan took off — as did his recruiting.
“We dropped him back in coverage and he intercepted a pass against Davie and ran it back for a touchdown,” Snow said. “And we knew from that play, from that point forward, that it was on.”
Henry was the No. 6 player in the country, according to ESPN, the No.3 defensive end and the No. 2 overall player in North Carolina during his junior and senior years at West. He graduated early in December 2017 and became a five-year contributor at Clemson. Henry played in 58 games with 122 tackles, 13.5 sacks and 28 tackles for a loss.
“I talked to his agent some on Saturday and he told me that all the teams that ended up meeting with K.J. in the pre-draft process came away saying that his meeting might be the best one they’ve ever had,” Snow said. “And that was after they saw him have a great workout at the combine.”
Henry is the fourth player during Snow’s tenure to make an NFL roster and the second to be drafted.
Alex McCalister (2016 by the Philadelphia Eagles) was the other former Titan to get drafted, and Jalen Dalton (signed by the Chicago Bears as a free agent in 2019, now with the Atlanta Falcons) and Ja’Quan McMillian, who was signed by the Denver Broncos last season are the others.
“It’s just pretty special that you get the opportunity to coach young men like that,” Snow said. “I’m just so happy for all of them that they got that chance, and I’m proud of the impact they left on our program.”