Anyone paying attention to Florida A&M University’s football team has heard two names frequently for the past three weeks: Ricky Henrilus and Chad Hunter.
Those names belong to two redshirt freshmen football players that have been setting the football field on fire with their play recently. The two have combined for five touchdowns and over 400 yards in only two games. Putting up impressive numbers in such a short amount of time
A close look at the duo’s journey to where they are now reveals an interesting story. A story of two teammates whose careers have become synonymous with one another. When something happens to one, it tends to happen to the other as well.
Both have a strong love for football that started at an early age. For Hunter, it came from watching his cousin play.
“My cousin Brandon Hunter, he got me to start playing football,” said the Tallahassee native. “I just wanted to be like him. They gave me 84, but I (usually) wear the number 13 because of him.”
For Henrilus it was not one person, but an entire community that got him to play football.
“Where I’m from you gotta play football,” said the running back from Miami. “No matter what your race is, you just…you have to play football. My family, we was big on football, so I had no choice but to play and I started when I was six.”
The two have a love of football in common, but it was the overcoming of obstacles they faced in high school that brought them together.
“I was supposed to go to a D-1 [Division I] school, but I ended up getting an ankle injury my 12th grade year,” Henrilus said. “It kind of messed up my whole senior year. I lost a lot of offers because of my ankle injury. Only played the last three games that year”
His wide receiver counterpart also had a problem his senior year. Hunter found it hard to get recruited in Tallahassee, and barely got any offers.
“I think it’s being from Tallahassee,” Hunter said. “They don’t really recruit in Tallahassee. I recruited FAMU, FAMU ain’t recruit me.”
Though they each had their own problems, both players fought through it, and performed well enough that season to play in the all-star game where they met and immediately started plotting.
“We had talked about coming to Fam at the all-star game our senior year of high school,” Hunter mentioned. Henrilus added that “We knew that if we had nowhere else to go, FAM was going to be home for us.”’
As fate would have it, both players ended up having nowhere to go, and they decided to walk on for FAMU, meaning that they had to try out to play for the team without scholarship.
“We ended up talking to Wood around the same time, same period, and he accepted both of us,” said Hunter.
They impressed head coach Alex Wood during the tryouts, and it turns out that Hunter did have at least one person watching him in high school.
“We knew he was a good player coming out of high school,” said Wood. “You’re not really sure until they’re here, but he’s a good route runner, good ball skills. I’m glad we got him.”
They tried out at the same time, made the team at the same time, and the two even share the same birthday of Aug. 10. It was only makes sense that they have their first huge games as Rattlers at the same time.
On Oct. 21 FAMU played against Hampton, and with the Rattlers down 21-10 the two saw their opportunity to shine. Henrilus ran for 109 yards on only 10 carries, and Hunter obtained 97 yards receiving and two touchdowns on only two receptions.
Even though FAMU would lose that game 31-27, the duo had finally gotten a chance to show what they could do, and they weren’t going to look back. Their success continued the next week against Morgan State, combining for over 200 total yards and three touchdowns.
There is no reason to think the two will slow down now that they’ve hit their stride, especially considering how good the two aspire to be.
“I want to be remembered for my work ethic,” said Hunter. “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
His counterpart had similar aspirations “I’m trying to break records, I’m trying to put numbers on the board,” he said. “I want to leave a legacy. Our goals are to be THE number one. We said that we were going to end up being the face of FAMU.”
If they continue to have good games, especially when they play in the Florida Classic Nov. 18, then the two will definitely become the faces of FAMU football.