Rookie running back Darrell Henderson has experienced plenty of success through different levels of football.
"Well, I played Pee Wee ball and little league, and broke records in little league," Henderson said in an interview with therams.com this week. "Then I got to high school — I broke records in high school. Then I went to Memphis and I got records there. And it's just been a humbling experience, and it just goes to show that hard work pays off."
Rushing for 32 touchdowns and 2,253 yards as a senior at South Panola High School in Batesville, Miss., Henderson earned the 2014 Mississippi Gatorade Football Player of the Year award. He totaled 5,801 yards rushing and 68 rushing touchdowns in high school.
Remarkably, he recorded nearly the same kind of production at the college level at Memphis, rushing for 3,545 yards and 36 total touchdowns in three seasons. He put up 1,154 yards on 130 carries in 2017 as a sophomore — averaging a stunning 8.9 yards per carry. And then he followed it with another season averaging 8.9 yards per carry, though this time he posted the numbers taking 214 carries for 1,909 yards.
Impressive as that production is, it doesn't seem to mean much to Henderson now that he's reached the NFL level.
"I mean, it's good. It's a special opportunity, and it's a great opportunity," Henderson said. "But at the end of the day, I've flushed everything and try to stay focused because it's easy to get big-headed and start messing up, and lose all the opportunities that you could have."
Henderson says that attitude comes from his father, who instilled a strong work ethic in his son from a young age.
"He worked non-stop. He worked day and night," Henderson said. "And I took that with football."
It's fair to expect that attitude combined with his track record of success should translate to success at the highest level. But Henderson is staying humble as he begins his time in the NFL.
"It's been pretty good," Henderson said of his first few days in the building. "It's just me getting my foot in the door and trying to learn the plays and get better each and every day."
Henderson has appreciated the way the coaches and veteran players have embraced him to aid in that process — particularly fellow running back Todd Gurley.
The 2017 AP Offensive Player of the Year reached out to Henderson on draft night to welcome him to the club, and dispensed advice in the facility during the rookie's first full day with the club.
"It was a pretty good moment. He just told me to be ready to work," Henderson said of the draft-night message. "And I talked to him yesterday, he was like, 'Don't be afraid to mess up, because the more you mess up, the more you learn from it.'
"It shows you that this organization takes pride in team bonding. And for him to do that — something that he didn't have to do — was a great opportunity for me."
So as the offseason program continues, Henderson is looking to keep his head down and prove he's one of the players who can make an impact at the NFL level.
"I bring hard work," Henderson said, "I'm a humble person, and I think I just fit in with this organization because I fit what they do."
Check out photos of the Los Angeles Rams rookies arriving at the facility!