The only personal tweet that former Utah and BYU running back commit Devonta’e Henry-Cole sent out in the past few days had nothing to do with football.
“As a Masters student in the Biology Department at BYU I’m excited to research the social impacts of environmental change on vulnerable coastal communities. #studentathlete #committed #gocougs @BYUGradStudies @BYUBiology @BYUEcology,” he tweeted on Friday from his @devontaehenry Twitter account.
It’s pretty clear this graduate transfer takes being a student-athlete seriously.
Of course, many Cougar football fans are thrilled to see what he can also do on the gridiron.
At Utah, Henry-Cole played in 25 games and had 90 carries for 469 yards and four touchdowns but chose to enter the transfer portal earlier in 2020.
“He entered the portal and everyone pounced,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said at the signing day press conference on Wednesday. “We were fortunate to get him to come on a trip immediately that weekend. I don’t know all the details or how it happened but it was pretty obvious he was comfortable right when he got here.
“He got to talk to all the coaches. He had a relationship with A-Rod (Cougar quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick) from before (at Utah) but he is just an easy guy to get along with. I was impressed with the maturity he had and the gratitude that he had for Utah and the things he did there. He’s just such a genuine young man. To me it was a perfect fit. I think he surprised a lot of us by saying, ‘yeah, I’m ready to roll.’ I look forward to him making plays for us and competing but more than anything I think he’s like-minded, so it’s going to be a lot of fun for him.”
Sitake explained that Henry-Cole met with people in the school’s biology department that were really helpful.
“The teachers were coming on a Friday or a Saturday to answer any questions he might have,” Sitake said. “That’s not really unique. BYU just has teachers and faculty that are always there for the students and the recruits. They’ve done that for a lot of our recruits.”
Academics were certainly one factor for Henry-Cole, as likely was his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Boca Raton, Florida, native joined the church while a Ute football player in September of 2018.
It probably didn’t hurt either that Henry-Cole would have the opportunity to reunite with Roderick.
“I’m happy to have him because I always liked him,” Roderick said. “I know he is a really well-liked member of the team up there. He’s a great kid with great character and a really good player. He has a lot of speed and he’ll be a great fit here. I’m excited about what he brings to our team because the biggest challenge is finding speed and guys who can break the game open — and he is a guy who can do that.”
The Cougar quarterback coach said he feels like Henry-Cole wanted to go somewhere he could have opportunities and BYU fit that mold.
“When you only have one year left, you have to be sure about what you are doing,” Roderick said. “I think there was a trust level with me having coached him before. The other part was that we provided an opportunity for Ty’Son Williams last year and we kept our part of the deal. I think that track record was helpful as well. He came down and visited and I think he just fit in well with our team.”
Roderick said he was a little surprised at how quickly things happened but he wasn’t that surprised that Henry-Cole chose to come to BYU.
“I knew he was going to be a great fit,” Roderick said. “Things here often tend to move slowly but it was like clockwork and things seemed to go really well.”