I want to help my team out and be the asset that I know I can (be). I can't be that if I can't be a confident Aaron Henry. If I am going out there and I know that my knee is not where I want it to be, I don't want to go out there and be a liability to the team and the reason we either lose or be the reason something bad happens. I don't want this to be an on-going process. I don't want my knee to be keep nagging me and nagging me. I want to get it as strong as I can get it. I want to contribute to the team so bad but I know right now, physically I can't.
Is it the knee or the hamstring?
I was getting some pain and they said it was coming from my hamstring but it was in a pez (the attachment of three tendons to your tibia). It was radiating to the front of my knee as I walked and it initially started from the hamstring when I was doing hamstring exercises two weeks after the meniscus surgery. It's hamstring-knee pain but it is more so the knee.
The last thing you want to happen is feel pretty good, come back and get injured again. How do you decide whether to take a red shirt?
I have been praying on it from day one and the Lord told me that he would take care of me. I am going to leave it all in his hands. I have been leaving it in his hands from the get go. I know that I am going to be taken care of. As bad as I want to get out there and contribute, if I physically can't, I don't want to put my team in a position where I would be the reason we lose or stumble or fall. I know my teammates and I know they want somebody who can feel confident out there. I am a very confident player but it is kind of hard when you are running around on a leg and a half.
Do you have a number – let's say you feel that you feel good enough with six games left in the season, that would be enough? Do you have a number in your mind?
I really don't have a number. To be honest, I am taking it from day to day and as bad I know how good this team can be and know that I can contribute, when it's all said and done, this knee is going to be with me forever. I don't want to sound selfish or anything, but I have to do what is best for Aaron Henry.
You talk about the negatives of red shirting and not contributing, have you weighed some of the positives about taking a year for yourself and your knee?
I definitely have. I can come back stronger. I can come back a more confident player and I can gather everything up. I have looked at both sides and I just want to do what's best for myself and make sure this leg is ready to go. I don't want to go out there half stepping and end up messing it up again because it's not strong enough. I just want my leg to be 110 percent whenever I do go out there and compete.
Do you feel less ready now than when you were at the start of camp before you started having problems?
Yes. I do feel like that. The reason why I feel like that is I was originally set back with the meniscus and on top of that, I start getting some more pain. It's just something you have to deal with. That's life. You get many bumps and bruises and you just have to take it for a ride and bounce back from it. That shapes and molds the character of every person and the Lord told me that he was going to be with. I told you guys from the beginning that I am a firm believer in my faith and I know that it's already written in stone. Somebody is going to take care of me so I am just living.
You said you wanted to be 110 percent. In camp, you said you were about 92 percent. What do you feel now?
Right now to be completely, completely honest, if you were to ask me to cover one of our tight ends, I probably tell you that I can't. As far as moving laterally and everything it takes to be a Big Ten cornerback … you don't even have to be that good, just to be in the right position to make plays and put your team and yourself in a good position, I just can't do that right now, as bad as I want to.
Is there anything you can do on the field that you don't feel any pain or do you feel pain in everything you do?
Man (long pause), there's no one particular thing I can do and feel like that I am ready. I can run pretty decent straight ahead, but I am getting a little pain with that. I can back pedal at a pretty nice speed but I am getting a little pain with that. Those aren't too bad but it's moving lateral and planting and cutting and doing this and that. That's the main movement for being a cornerback.
I know you are very strong in your faith, but you don't sound like a guy that is close to coming back.
(laughing) To be completely honest with you sir, as bad as I want to go out there and contribute, right now as of this day, I can't. I can't man. Sometimes you have to be smart about the situation. The Lord sends us all kinds of signs and I have to be smart about it. I know everybody is expecting this great comeback and I want to be the man to give it to them. It's hard to do that when you're not physically ready or able to.