The Houston Cougars are in their final week of spring football, with the annual Red & White Spring Game slated for Saturday afternoon. One noticeable offensive adjustment under the new staff this spring is the increased use of a tight end in the offense. The Cougars added Katy (TX) standout Parker Eichenberger in the 2017 signing class that will report over the summer but as they look to increase the use of the position in the offense, they will need to add more weapons through recruiting.
Arlington (TX) Oakridge tight end Christoph Henle came down for an initial visit to the school at the Cougars initial junior day in early February. He returned late last week for a second visit to get a better look at the program from the inside.
"It was a big thing for me to go back there after being at the junior day,” said the 6-foot-4, 225 pound athlete. “The junior days are kind of like a first date and getting to know everyone but getting to go back down there and spend time with the team and get to know more about them was good, kind of like a second date. They had a scrimmage going on Thursday so I went down there on Wednesday and stayed with a couple of friends. I got to sit in their meetings Thursday morning and got to hang out in the locker room and spend some time with the team and just experience how they do things."
Part of the trip was also an opportunity to spend a lot of time with Cougars tight end coach James Casey, to continue to build a relationship the two have been working on for a while now.
“Coach Casey is full of energy and it is really a thing that I like,” said Henle “It’s great being around him and I think we have a pretty good relationship. We talk on the phone once in a while, he came up to my school and now I’ve seen him twice down in Houston. He is intense but not in a bad way. He knows what he is talking about, he has done it and he knows the struggles. If I am going to get a shot a maybe playing in the NFL after college, I think coach Casey would be a great mentor and guide on what to do and how the whole business works.”
Another important reason for Henle's visit was to see how Houston planned to increase the use of the tight end with his own eyes, something he got to do during the Cougars scrimmage.
“Another big reason for going down there was to see their offense in practice and scrimmage," he said. "Obviously, I did my homework too in watching Houston’s offense last year, there wasn’t much of a tight end. Getting to talk with coach (Major) Applewhite, a thing he said that as an offensive coordinator you are kind of like a cook and you cook with what you have. If you have a tight end you want to use them but in the past they haven’t had that hybrid tight end that can block, catch, run routes and all of that. In their scrimmage they used big number 82 (Romello Brooker) every time their first team was out there. That is a huge factor for me obviously, going to a team that uses their tight ends. I want to go to a school, like at Houston, where I basically have a good chance of getting playing time early. It would be huge for me to be there in December to have six or seven months to be in the program and get bigger and get familiar with everything, instead of going to another school with like seven tight ends on the roster and have to redshirt and then wait until my sophomore or junior year to get playing time."
It wasn't only about football for Henle though who also sought out information about the Cougars' academics.
"The things that speaks volumes about Houston is something like 73 percent of all Houston graduates actually stay in the Houston area which is great," he said. "When you graduate there is such a support system in place. I am thinking about possibly majoring in business or banking and it is great getting out with a degree and having people out there who are also Houston grads who are interested in helping you."
As Henle prepares for his last spring football as a high school player, the mid-year college enrollee is confident in where his recruitment is at and what his next plans are.
"I feel like I got all of the information I wanted from my trip down there, he said. "I may come back in the summer, maybe if my parents can come visit from Austria and come with me. I don't really have any other visits anywhere set up right now. My plan was to get out there in the spring and get my face out there. Now I am going to focus on my spring football and getting better and see who else may come and offer. After that maybe another visit or two before making a decision in the summer."
Henle was an SPC All-District selection in 2016 for The Oakridge School. He caught 41 passes for 579 yards and nine touchdowns.