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Derrick Henry and the ‘incredible’ high school player who broke his record

Written by on September 29, 2021

Breaking a Florida high school record once held by current NFL superstar Derrick Henry while playing with one hand is quite an accomplishment. Having him shout you out afterward is likely a surreal experience.

Kayleb Wagner has officially checked all of those boxes in his young football career.

Wagner, a junior running back from Baker High School in District 1-1A, eclipsed Henry’s single-game rushing record of 502 yards during his game against South Walton High School on Sept. 17. Wagner racked up 535 yards and six touchdowns, carrying his team to a 49-48 win.

“I think it is incredible,” Henry said during a news conference Thursday. “He was outrunning guys; guys weren’t touching him; it was really cool. Definitely an inspiration to me, and I am sure he is an inspiration to his team and everybody over there in that community. I love to see it.”

Wagner has averaged a whopping 409 yards rushing in three games this year, along with reaching the end zone 15 times. He was born without his left hand and part of his forearm because of a condition called amniotic band syndrome.

Henry, a sensational runner in his own right during his time at Yulee High School, also said that he reached out to Wagner via social media. Wagner confirmed that Henry contacted him, and it was then that he realized the magnitude of his record-breaking performance.

“We went back and forth for five minutes or so … He congratulated me, said he would send me a pair of his cleats and game gloves. It was very, very cool. I think it really hit me then that I had the record,” Wagner said, per MaxPreps.

Outside of the single-game record in Florida, Henry’s senior-season rushing totals of 4,261 yards and 55 touchdowns are also state marks. He also broke the national high school career rushing record. He ran for a total of 12,124 yards, eclipsing Ken Hall’s standard that stood for almost 60 years.

The Tennessee Titans back said he hopes Wagner continues to break records during his career at Baker.

“I just told him to keep going, keep working hard, keep God first … Records are meant to be broken, and I hope he breaks some more,” Henry said.

Wagner hopes he and the Gators’ undefeated season continues this week, as they face Lighthouse Private Christian Academy on Friday. Looking further into his football future, Wagner said he hopes to make NFL history one day.

“I want to be the first offensive player with one arm to play in the league,” Wagner said to MaxPreps.

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