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QB Malik Henry set to show ‘totally different me’ in the CFL
(Credit: Tina Myers; Courtesy: Malik Henry)

QB Malik Henry set to show ‘totally different me’ in the CFL

EDMONTON, Alberta (BVM) – Malik Henry is taking the next step in his football journey. The former star of Netflix’s docuseries “Last Chance U” signed a deal with the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Elks for the 2024 season.

“I feel great,” Henry said. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m really appreciative for the opportunity to go out there and learn from Coach (Chris) Jones and everybody. I’m excited, excited to meet my teammates, excited to play ball and just excited to be around the atmosphere up there.”

Henry is best known for his two-season stint on “Last Chance U” when he played quarterback for the Independence Community College Pirates football team. Before his appearance on the show, Henry was a four-star recruit and ranked No. 17 on the ESPN300 for the Class of 2016. He signed with Florida State out of Long Beach Polytechnic High School and spent one season with the Seminoles before transferring to Independence which was the focus of “Last Chance U” seasons three and four.

Malik Henry Florida State Seminoles football
Oct 1, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Malik Henry (6) warms up before the game against the North Carolina Tarheels at Doak Campbell Stadium. (Credit: Melina Vastola/USA TODAY Sports)

At Independence, Henry played in 12 games for the Pirates, throwing for 1,620 yards and 11 passing touchdowns while leading Indy to a 9-2 overall record and a Midwestern Bowl victory in 2017. While the show helped put Henry on the map, the quarterback doesn’t view it fondly.

“I think the show did a disservice to a lot of people including me,” Henry said. “I don’t really glorify the show, I don’t like to glorify myself being on the show, I honestly don’t like talking about it anymore. It was a long time ago. I was 17, I was young. There were a lot of things I had to go through, that I had to deal with that other people didn’t know about.”

Henry feels that the show didn’t grasp him as a person and portrayed him the way it pleased. Henry now seeks to erase the preconceived notions of him as a football player and take control of the narrative.

“I don’t think it did anything beneficial or helped me at all. If you know me you know I’m a hard worker, a good kid and I’m not anything they tried to portray on the show,” Henry continued. “This past year and these previous years and in the future I just want to tell the story from my point of view, without any edits, without clipping it for soundbites and internet feeds and stuff like that. … Everybody who sees me from now on is getting a totally different me from what their perception is on the show.”

Following his time at the JUCO level, Henry was offered a walk-on spot with the Nevada Wolf Pack where he played three games during the 2019 season. Things didn’t go particularly well for Henry at the Division I level. He finished his lone college season at Nevada with 593 passing yards, one touchdown and four interceptions in two starts.

Malik Henry Nevada Wolf Pack football
Aug 30, 2019; Reno, NV, USA; Nevada backup quarterback Malik Henry (16) on the sidelines against the Purdue Boilermakers during the fourth quarter at Mackay Stadium. (Credit: David Calvert/USA TODAY Sports)

Injuries thrust Henry into the starting role against San Jose State on Oct. 12, 2019, when he led the Wolf Pack to a 41-38 win. Henry completed 22-of-37 passes for 352 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the contest. He started the next game against Utah State, struggled, and was removed from on-field participation by Nevada head coach Jay Norvell to focus on academics and his personal life. Henry never returned to practice and didn’t enroll in classes for the spring semester.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henry didn’t see action on the gridiron until 2021 when he joined the Frisco Fighters of the Indoor Football League.

In his first indoor campaign, Henry threw for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns. Henry credits his time under head coach Clint Dolezel and quarterback development coach Dan Raudabaugh for his success both in the arena league and as a person.

“There was a time where I didn’t really love football and I was falling out of it mentally and Coach Clint and Dan were the two main reasons I was able to fall in love with the game again,” Henry said. “I’ve matured a lot through the years and the maturity came from Coach Clint and Coach Dan and learning from guys like that. Throughout my career early on through college and in high school, I’ve never really had anybody take me under their wing and teach me the ropes so it was special when I got to the Frisco Fighters.”

Malik Henry Frisco Fighters IFL football
Henry prepares for a snap as a member of the Frisco Fighters. (Courtesy: Malik Henry)

His performance helped Henry land with the Jacksonville Sharks of the National Arena League for the 2022 season. Henry threw for 1,027 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in eight games with the Sharks before joining the Carolina Cobras for the final four games where he threw for 809 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions.

The 2023 season was the best for Henry. The 25-year-old signal caller threw for 3,116 yards, 60 passing touchdowns and just 11 interceptions, leading the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns, while also rushing for seven more scores. He also threw for an NAL record 10 touchdown passes in a game against the West Texas Warbirds.

“Last year was really a year for me to showcase my talents and showcase I could play ball,” Henry said. “I took the time out to really work hard and hone in on everything I had to work on and I think it showed throughout the season.”

Malik Henry Carolina Cobras football
Malik Henry led the National Arena League in passing yards (3,116) and passing touchdowns (60) during the 2023 season as he led the Carolina Cobras to the 2023 NAL Championship. (Photo: Carolina Cobras)

Henry was set to join the Albany Firebirds in the newest iteration of the Arena Football League this spring, but with the Elks calling, he changed course and headed north.

“I’m also doing this for the guys who aren’t getting this opportunity,” Henry said. “They’re all rooting for me so hopefully I get to make them proud at the next level.”

Now, Henry will get the chance to follow in the footsteps of other notable “Last Chance U” alumni. He will become the sixth member of the show to make it to the CFL, joining season one stars Ronald Ollie and C.J. Reavis, season two star Tim Bonner and season three and four stars T.J. Johnson and Calvin Jackson Jr.

With the Elks, perhaps Henry can make the most of his inarguable athletic ability and leave a mark in the CFL. While he has high hopes, his goal is a simple one.

“I signed a two-year deal and I want to be there the whole two years,” Henry said. “I want to learn the system, learn the game and hopefully play up there in Canada. They have a great fanbase, they’re doing great things up there and I’d just love to be a part of it. I think that’s my main goal to be on the team at the end of this next season.”

As Henry gets ready for his first season north of the border, his NFL dreams cannot be considered dead quite yet.

“I’m really just looking forward to the opportunity. It’s been a long time coming for me and I’ve been praying and waiting and working hard and it feels like all that hard work is finally coming to the surface,” Henry said. “Working towards the NFL is definitely the goal, but right now I’m going to stay grounded and stay focused on what’s in front of me, which is the Canadian Football League.”