The rest of his free time was spent on moving, too, in a sense. But rather than a new neighborhood, the 6-foot, 215-pounder for Franklin Region diligently spent his week determining where he would continue his academic and athletic careers. And after a Friday visit to Duquesne, he decided the next time he moved, it would be into a freshman dorm at Penn State.
Henderson committed to Nittany Lions linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden Friday night, becoming the third linebacker since Jan. 27 to choose to run-on at Penn State.
“Penn State came in right at the end of November, and running backs coach Charles London was the coach that first talked to me,” Henderson said. “Things really picked up the last four weeks, as I received offers from IUP, California (Pa.), Slippery Rock, St. Francis and Duquesne all in that period. But after my Friday visit to Duquesne, it didn't really sell me, so I called Coach Vanderlinden and made it official.”
Henderson set a school record with 145 tackles in his senior season, making 18 of them behind the line of scrimmage, and forcing two fumbles. On film, he's an instinctive player with a nose for the ball carrier and has the speed to take advantage of it. He believes that's what stood out to Vanderlinden, a coach he's quickly grown to like.
“Coach Vanderlinden said he watched my film over and over again, and that he was impressed by it,” Henderson noted. ”I haven't seen him coach before, but his personality has a lot in common with mine. He's a good guy, and very down to earth. He treats his players well and cares about them, and he told me about the guys he sent to the NFL, and how he still keeps in touch with them. All of that was the biggest factor.”
But like most run-ons, so, too, was the opportunity to take his talents to the Divison-I level and in front of a packed house at Beaver Stadium.
“Getting the chance to run on the field in front of 100,000 fans was a big selling point, and so were the facilities,” Henderson explained. “They stress that they treat all the players the same, and that was a big factor to me. So, too, was the Lasch Building. When I was up for Run-On Day on Jan. 20, we got to see it, and that's what sold me. All the academic help is in there, and the weight room and training room, too. Coach Vanderlinden and Coach London being so helpful for me and my mom were big, too. But the facilities really sold me.”
And by his family selling their house and moving into a new one in the same week he committed, he called the last week “the craziest of my life.” But in the end, he was sold on too many aspects of the Nittany Lions run-on program and the university in general to pass up the chance before him, which will begin in June when he enrolls in summer classes.
“I really think athletically and academically, it's the best opportunity for me,” Henderson said. “I want to major in engineering, and they have the best program in the country there. And now that I made the decision, and moved into our new house, it feels like all the weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”