Facing Adversity
by Brian North

One of my favorite quotes is, "Adversity causes some people to break, and others to break records." I hope Phillip Henry breaks a lot of records.

Henry was in position to make one of those once in a lifetime memories, when it slipped through his grasp. The Pirates trailed UAB with just over a minute remaining when the wide receiver from Elizabeth City made a clutch catch on a 4th and 15 play. He slipped behind the Blazers defense and caught what Skip Holtz said was James Pinkney's best pass ever at ECU. Henry had his back to the goal line when he caught the pigskin at the 26 yard line then turned and ran like his life depended on it. He was five yards away from scoring the go-ahead touchdown when a defender caught him from behind and desperately poked at the ball and punched it out of Henry's grasp.

In the cruel fate of football, the odd shaped ball bounced right into the hands of another diving defender in the end zone. Pirate Nation went from despair to ecstasy to agony in a matter of seconds. Henry could only walk to the sidelines wondering how life could be so harsh.

Phillip Henry is described in the ECU media guide as a story-book walk-on success story. The Northeastern High School product grew up in the shadows of his older brother Jacque Lewis who was a star running back with the Eagles and went on to play college ball at UNC. Henry had a nice scholastic career but wasn't highly recruited and enrolled at nearby Elizabeth City State om 2003. He quickly transferred to ECU to try and live out his dream. The rest is history. He went to a walk-on practice and was told to come back. He quickly caught the attention of Skip Holtz and his staff with his steady play. He moved up the depth chart and got a chance to get on the field in 2005. He caught his first pass in his second college game (at Wake Forest) and ended the season with 28 catches including a touchdown reception at Memphis. He was rewarded with a scholarship, and is now one of James Pinkney's favorite targets.

But now things get tough. Henry has gone from being an anonymous feel good story to a name every Pirate fan knows. How Phillip responds to the adversity he faced in UAB will go a long way in determining how the Pirates do this season. And I hope he continues his stellar rise from obscurity with a spectacular play that makes everyone realize you can make the best of an unfortunate situation, and that adversity caused him to break records.
Brian North