Josh Henson joined the University of Missouri football coaching staff in February of 2009 as the first new hire to join Gary Pinkel’s staff since he came to Mizzou in 2001. Henson came aboard as co-offensive line coach, and after four seasons in that role, he was promoted to offensive coordinator in December of 2012.
That decision to promote internally by Pinkel paid off handsomely in 2013, as Henson oversaw an offense which was undoubtedly one of the most improved in the nation, and which played a critical role in Mizzou’s 12-2 championship season.
Henson made subtle tweaks to Mizzou’s spread offense after taking over the reins, and it led to the Tigers posting one of the most balanced and potent attacks in the country. Just a few of MU’s national ranks in various categories included: 13th in scoring (after ranking 80th in 2012) at 39.1 points per game, 16th in total offense (96th in 2012) at just under 500 yards per game, 16th in rushing (88th in 2012) and 34th in passing efficiency, a year after ranking just 103rd nationally in that category.
The Tiger offensive line made huge strides in 2013, and that certainly was a key to Mizzou’s success. Senior LT Justin Britt won 1st-Team All-SEC honors by the Associated Press, becoming the first MU tackle to win A.P. first-team conference honors since Rob Droege in 2003. Senior LG Max Copeland became a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, given annually to the nation’s top player who began his career as a walk-on. Britt went on to become the highest drafted offensive lineman of the Pinkel era, going in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Seattle Seahawks with the 64th overall pick.
The 2014 season brought a new challenge, as Henson lost some 60% of his offensive production from the previous year. His young squad experienced ups and downs early on before finding their footing to help key MU’s six-game win streak to close the regular season and clinch the SEC Eastern Division title for the second-straight year.
Henson has had eight of his linemen at Mizzou earn all-conference honors 11 times in his tenure, including true freshman guard Evan Boehm, who was named a 1st-Team Freshman All-American by College Football News in 2012. Boehm moved to center for 2013, and despite that being the first time he’d played the position at length, he did a masterful job of leading the front five. Senior LT Mitch Morse was named 2nd-Team All-SEC by the league’s coaches for his play in 2014.
A former standout offensive lineman at Oklahoma State, Henson spent four years as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Louisiana State University, where he developed the reputation as being a tremendous on-field teacher of the game, while also leading the charge for LSU’s recruiting classes which ranked among the top 10 in the nation four times – including a 2009 class which ranked as No. 2 in the nation according to Rivals.com.
Henson has provided a measurable impact for the Tiger football program, both on and off the field. In 2011, the Tiger offensive line – despite the pre-season loss of All-Big 12 left tackle Elvis Fisher to a season-ending injury – developed into a stout unit that paved the way for a Big 12 team rushing title that year. The Tigers ranked 9th nationally, and led the Big 12 in rushing (244.00 avg.) and also ranked 12th nationally in total offense (475.54 avg.), despite featuring a first-year starter at quarterback.
In 2009, he helped coach a trio of Tiger offensive linemen – senior Kurtis Gregory (2nd-Team), and sophomores Elvis Fisher (Hon. Men.) and Dan Hoch (Hon. Men.) to All-Big 12 honors. The offensive line helped protect first-year starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert well enough so that MU ranked 14th in the nation in passing, while allowing only 20 sacks in 13 games and 467 passing attempts.
It was more of the same in 2010, as the offensive line was a key element to Mizzou’s 10-win season (only the fourth double-digit win season in school history), as four of Henson’s five starters won some level of all-conference honors. Senior center Tim Barnes established himself as one of the top centers in the nation, and he took home 1st-Team All-Big 12 honors for his outstanding play. Also earning all-conference acclaim were juniors Dan Hoch (2nd-Team), Elvis Fisher (Hon. Men.) and Austin Wuebbels (Hon. Men.).
In the recruiting battles, Henson quickly helped MU establish ties to areas in which it had little success in recent years, and his efforts helped the Tiger 2010 class to a No. 21 national ranking by Rivals.com – marking the highest ranking ever for an MU recruiting class.
Prior to Mizzou, Henson spent 10 years as a player and coach at Oklahoma State, prior to his successful stint as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at LSU. He replaced former Tiger coach Dave Christensen, who was the first assistant to leave Pinkel’s staff since coming to MU in 2001. Christensen was named the head coach at Wyoming in December of 2008.
In 2007, Henson’s coaching efforts helped LSU sophomore tight end Richard Dickson put together one of the most productive seasons at the position in school history. Dickson turned in the third-highest single-season reception total by a Tiger tight end in school history, and he capped the 2007 season by catching a pair of touchdown passes in LSU’s 38-24 win over Ohio State in the 2008 BCS National Championship Game.
The Tiger tight ends played a key role as LSU’s offense set a total of 10 school records in 2007, including points in a season and total yards in a season. Following the 2007 season, LSU tight end Keith Zinger was selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
As LSU’s recruiting coordinator, Henson’s abilities made an immediate impact on the Tiger roster as LSU had the nation’s No. 2-ranked signing class in 2007 after a consensus top 6 national rating in 2006. For his efforts, Henson was ranked as one of college football’s top 25 recruiters in 2006 and 2007 by Rivals.com.
At Oklahoma State, Henson was instrumental in the development of Billy Bajema, who was a three-year starter for the Cowboys. As a senior in 2004, Bajema was one of the top tight ends in the country, earning first-team All-Big 12 honors. Bajema was picked in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Henson also played a vital role in OSU’s offensive development as the Cowboys ranked among the top 15 scoring teams in the nation for three consecutive years. The Cowboys averaged over 34 points per game from 2002-04, which included 35.9 points per game in 2003 and 34.5 points a game in 2004.
As Oklahoma State’s recruiting coordinator, Henson played a key role in OSU’s 2003 signing class being ranked No. 15 in the nation by Rivals.com. A year earlier, Rivals.com rated the Cowboy class as the 26th-best in the country.
As a player, Henson was a four-year letterwinner with 40 career starts for Oklahoma State from 1993-97. He was a starter on the offensive line as well as team captain for Oklahoma State’s 8-4 team in 1997, a squad that played in the Alamo Bowl against Purdue. He was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior, in addition to being an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick as a junior. Off the field, Henson was named the recipient of the L.L. Boger Award as a senior, an honor that recognizes a student-athlete’s achievement both on the field and in the classroom.
Henson graduated from Oklahoma State with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1998. Upon graduation, he went straight into coaching, serving as a high school football coach in Kingfisher, Okla. In one season at Kingfisher, he helped guide the Yellowjackets to the state semifinals.
Henson returned to Oklahoma State as a graduate assistant in July of 1999, spending one year with the Cowboy offensive line before taking a full-time position with OSU as tight ends coach in 2001.
Henson is a native of Tuttle, Okla. He and his wife Shauna have a 10-year old son, Will, and a 6-year old daughter, Kate. Henson lists golf, fishing and hunting as his hobbies in his spare time.