Derrick Henry wins NFL Offensive Player of Year award

Yulee grad honored for 2,000-yard season

Associated Press
Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) stiff-arms Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones (35) during a December game. The Yulee High School graduate was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

One of the well-earned spoils for Derrick Henry’s 2,000-yard rushing season is The Associated Press 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year honor.

The Tennessee Titans running back with speed, power and the best stiff-arm in the business, ran for 2,027 yards, the eighth player to surpass the magic 2,000 mark. Five of the previous seven to manage the feat won the award, while O.J. Simpson in 1973 was the league’s MVP.

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The winner was revealed on the NFL Honors television show. Henry, who set the national rushing record at Yulee High School from 2009 to 2012, is the Titans' first AP Offensive Player of the Year since running back Chris Johnson in 2009. 

“Two thousand yards is always on a running back’s mind, especially in the league because it is so unique,” Henry said. “As far as me, as long as I train hard and work hard in the offseason, and then when I come in for training camp and do what I need to do to be ready to prepare for the season, everything would take care of itself. Always put the team goals first, then individual goals come second.

“But I knew we take a lot of pride in the running game and have had success, and then anything is possible with the group I am with, (so) we could accomplish it.”

Henry averaged 126.7 yards per game, scored 17 touchdowns on the ground, and led the Titans to their first AFC South crown since 2008. He had seven games with more than 100 yards rushing, and three games with more than 200 — including 250 in the season finale to get beyond 2,000 yards.

That brought him 32 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He far outdistanced quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City and Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay with five apiece.

Henry has improved his game in each of his five seasons.

“All the elements as far as my game and what I am good at, I think my time throughout the league I started to develop the more experience I got,” he said. “As the years went on, I think just the development to the player I am today wasn’t always good and go. There was some adversity and had to work my way through it, but I appreciated it and that is how I got here today with the things I have been able to accomplish with my teammates. Just very thankful for it all.”