Jackpot: Baylor’s Black Brings Versatile Skill-Set to Packers

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Henry Black goes by the nickname “Jackpot.”

“My parents gave me the nickname before I was even born,” he said this week. “My mom hit the jackpot at the casino several times.”

Black hopes he’ll hit the jackpot with the Green Bay Packers. An undrafted safety from Baylor, Black was a part-time starter as a sophomore and junior before becoming a full-time starter as a senior. He recorded 62 tackles, one interception, four additional pass breakups and one forced fumble. Without a Scouting Combine invitation or a pro day due to the pandemic, Black had to stand on that 2019 resume.

“It wasn’t as stressful as I thought,” he said of his long wait on draft weekend. “I was just looking at it from a different standpoint of being blessed to even have an opportunity. I knew I probably wouldn’t be drafted, and if I did, it would probably be late rounds, so I already had my mind-set of being an undrafted free agent, coming in and getting ready to work.”

Black, a receiver and cornerback at Woodlawn High School in Shreveport, La., brings a versatile skill-set. He started some games at linebacker as a junior before becoming a full-time safety as a senior in the Bears’ 3-3-5 scheme. He chose the Packers because of how he’d fit in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme.

“I’m a guy that’s real physical and tough,” he said. “You’re going to get the best out of me. I’m going to come in every day and work. I’m not going to cut you short. I’m going to give it all I have. I’m just a tough, physical, smart football player.”

Black was a favorite player of former coach Matt Rhule, calling him “my kind of guy.” Under Rhule, the team’s toughest players are awarded single-digit jerseys. In a team vote during training camp in 2018, Black was one of the first two players to get the honor.

“It was a blessing to be recognized by my teammates and coaches,” Black said. “You’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to be one of the toughest players on the team. That means coming to work every day, holding people accountable and being a leader. It’s about being a tough, competitive football player.”

Reaching the NFL had been Black’s dream for years. Still, he didn’t feel any additional pressure entering a make-or-break senior season.

“I just stayed prayered up, had faith and kept doing what I was doing every day. I kept working hard and was having fun with it. You only get one shot at it,” he said.

Black’s highest tackle totals came in two games against Oklahoma. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed only 19 completions in 35 targets (54.3 percent) for just 159 yards. His strong, understated play helped the Bears reach the Sugar Bowl.

“As a unit, it was all of us buying in, coming together, playing together as one unit and making each other better,” Black said. “That started way before it even happened. In 2017, when Coach Rhule first came in, he demanded us to play to a certain standard and we all ascended to that standard. We got better every year and I continued to improve.”

Black graduated in 2018 with a degree in health, kinesiology and leisure studies and spent 2019 working toward his master’s degree with the aim of becoming a coach once his playing days are over.

“I want to help kids,” he said. “That’s what my coaches did in high school. My coaches, Jerwin and Derwin Wilson, I met them going into my ninth-grade year of high school. Those guys took me under their wing, showed me the ropes, stayed on me every day and took me to football camps. They helped kids reach their potential.”

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