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Former Nevada quarterback Malik Henry now playing for a pro football team

Malik Henry
Malik Henry last played football for Nevada in 2019. (Byrne Photo/Nevada athletics)

Former Nevada quarterback Malik Henry, who started two games for the Wolf Pack in 2019, has resurfaced on the roster of a professional indoor team.

Henry, a former four-star recruit and star of the Netflix show Last Chance U, is listed on the roster of the Frisco Fighters, which plays in the Indoor Football League. He most recently played at Nevada, appearing in three games during the 2019 campaign.

Henry entered that season in a three-player race for Nevada's starting job. The pre-camp favorite, Cristian Solano, broke his throwing hand in camp while Henry strained his hamstring, which limited him in practice and scrimmages. Ultimately, freshman Carson Strong won the starting job for the season opener and led Nevada to a 17-point second-half comeback to stun Purdue in the season opener. But Strong suffered a collarbone injury, and ineffectiveness from Strong and Solano in the team's Mountain West opener against Hawaii paved the way for Henry to get his first college start.

In his first FBS start, Henry led the Wolf Pack to a thrilling 41-38 victory over San Jose State on Oct. 12 (the 41 points were a season high for Nevada). He completed 22-of-37 passes for 352 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Spartans. The next week, Henry got the start against Utah State and struggled. He completed 17-of-38 passes for 213 yards and two interceptions in a 36-10 loss to the Aggies on Oct. 19. After that game, Nevada coach Jay Norvell removed Henry from participation on the field so he could focus on academics and his life off the field. Henry never returned to practice and didn't enroll in classes for the spring semester.

During his three games at Nevada, which marked his first playing time at the FBS level, Henry completed 42-of-78 passes (53.8 percent) for 593 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. He ran 11 times for seven yards. He began his college career at Florida State.

Henry's story before his time at Nevada was well chronicled. The 6-foot-2 quarterback came to Nevada amid fanfare given his lofty recruiting rankings coming out of high school. ESPN ranked Henry as the 17th-best prospect and second-best dual-threat quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class. ranked him 34th in the class and second at his position. And 247Sports ranked Henry as the No. 22 recruit in his class. Each pegged him as a four-star recruit.

After the Long Beach, Calif., native spent time at four high schools, he committed to Florida State but was suspended for rules violations early in his career and transferred after one season without seeing the field. He landed at Independence Community College in Kansas and was featured on Netflix's hit show Last Chance U, where Henry was portrayed as mercurial during two seasons at the junior college. He struggled to produce on the field and battled with coaches and teammates off it.

Henry was dismissed from Independence during his second season there, but was given a lifeline by Nevada to return to college football's top division. The Wolf Pack offered Henry a walk-on spot for the 2019 season, and the strong-armed quarterback had a solid spring camp, including an excellent performance in the team's Silver and Blue Spring Game. He completed 16-of-28 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown with no turnovers.

But he was unable to stay on Nevada's roster for more than one season and didn't resurface at another college last season, which would have been his senior year. Henry returned home to Southern California and helped former Nevada teammate, Berdale Robins, make meals for the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Henry is listed as one of three quarterbacks on the Frisco Fighters' roster, the other two being Texas alum Jerrod Heard, a quarterback/wide receiver who played 41 games for the Longhorns, and Jonathan Bane, who played for Dakota Wesleyan, an NAIA school. Frisco is 2-0 this season with Bane starting at quarterback and Heard being used as a rushing quarterback. Henry has yet to play a snap this year. The 14-game regular season runs through Aug. 21 with games every Saturday.

The Fighters, who play their games at Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas, were founded in 2020, but the Indoor Football League didn't play last season due to the pandemic, making this Frisco's first active season in the league, which formed in 2008. Frisco is one of 12 teams in the Indoor Football League. Six expansion teams are expected to be added to the league in 2022, including one in Las Vegas.

The team is coached by Clint Dolezel, who has won three Arena League championships (one as a player, two as a coach) as well as the China Bowl while coaching the Beijing Lions.

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