Chargers rookie Daiyan Henley (0) (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

On September 10, Crenshaw alum Daiyan Henley will have his NFL debut as a linebacker for the Los Angeles Chargers. Henley was drafted 85th overall by the Bolts in the 2023 Draft after a historic stint at Washington State and Nevada.

Henley mentioned that being drafted by the Chargers was perfect for him.

“It’s pretty good. I’m having fun. It’s football, this is my day job now,” Henley said about training camp. “To be able to come up here and do what I love, I’ve been enjoying it.”

Daiyan Henley (11) led the Cougars to the 2015 Division I City Section Finals as a quarterback (photo by Rob Helfman)

Henley made strong contributions to the Chargers’ defense and special teams throughout the preseason. His goal is to make interceptions and he secured a pick during the Bolts’ 23-12 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

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“I was immediately going to run the slant … but my eyes saw the ball pop out so I went for the ball,” Henley said. “I helped my boy Mikel (Jones) and he kind of secured it. I tried to score but I took too long holding it, I took too long trying to gather the ball.”

During their 17-22 loss against the Saints on August 20, Henley earned the privilege of being the signal caller on the defensive end. His nine total tackles and six solo stops led the Bolts’ defensive efforts.

Henley made history by being the first Washington State player to become a Butkus Award finalist (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

“Everything is important and for me to be able to showcase that I can play this game at this level, to my coaches,” Henley said. “I felt like I left some plays on the field that I really wanted to get back. I think that was good opportunity for me.”

While Chargers head coach Brandon Staley mentioned how he needs to keep improving, he admired Henley’s aggressive style of gameplay.

“You see what an outstanding tackler he is, he can really feel the run game,” Staley said. “He’s physical, outstanding in the Blitz game.”

During the Chargers preseason game versus the New Orleans Saints, Henley (0) was the signal caller for the defensive line (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Against the Rams in his preseason debut, Henley made five total tackles, three of which were solo, and defended two passes. He noted how surreal his first game as a Charger was.

“Being on the field is just something, I didn’t quite know how to react,” Henley said. “There’s happiness, it’s a little excitement and then it’s the chills of just being home and so it’s a lot of emotions flowing.”

Henley had a unique journey to the NFL; he played at the quarterback position during his junior and senior years at Crenshaw. As a junior, Henley led the Cougars to a Division I City Section Finals appearance. His efforts would give him 2015 Division I All-City Second Team honors.

Henley was quarterback (11) for the Crenshaw Cougars during his junior and senior year (Amanda/L.A. Sentinel)

He started his college career with the Nevada Wolfpack as a wide receiver in 2017, making 103 reception yards and three touchdowns in his freshman year.

By his sophomore season, Henley played on both offense and defense. His 2019 season was cut short due to injury. When Henley returned the next season, he played at linebacker and made 28 solo tackles in nine games.

His senior year in 2021, Henley made 103 total tackles, 61 of them being solo hits, and four interceptions. His efforts would put him on the All-Mountain West Second Team.

Henley (0) practices at Chargers Training Camp (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

After graduating from Nevada, he attended Washington State where he made 106 total tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles, and one interception. Henley led the Pac-12 in total tackles and ultimately became a finalist for the Butkus Award.

Henley is a third string linebacker behind Nick Niemann and Eric Kendricks. He enters a strong linebackers corps that flaunts experience and wisdom. Henley has been mentored by the likes of Kenneth Murray and Kendricks, Henley sees their tutelage as a blessing.

“We learn from Eric Kendricks a lot, I mean a tremendous amount,” Henley said. “He’ll come and hit me with a couple of new things every now and then where we go over tape and he tells me what he sees.”