Illinois has a slew of coaches beating the recruiting trail and they’ve made a concerted effort in the state of Texas.
Christoph Henle is a tight end from Arlington that recently received an offer from Lovie Smith’s staff. He’s a member of an important Class of 2018.
“It’s been great," Henle said. "I’ve been talking a lot with them lately and it’s my first power five offer which is always a big one to get."
Henle has developed a relationship with Illinois wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker – who also happens to be from Arlington.
“I got to speak with Coach Hayes-Stoker and their offensive line coach (Luke Butkus) in the morning when they stopped by our lifting session at school,” Henle said. “I’ve been texting Coach Stoker a bunch lately. He’s from Arlington as well so obviously it’s nice to have a coach that grew up where you grew up.”
Illinois may be the biggest school that has offered Henle, but he is focused on finding the right fit for his skill set.
“Power five is great and all of that, but if it’s not the right fit, it’s not the right fit,” Henle said. “I really just want to find a school where I can fit in as a tight end in the offense, where I can develop as an athlete on the football field, but also get a really good education that can carry me through life.”
Although Illinois is 858 miles away from his hometown, Henle isn’t intimated by the distance.
“Obviously the school is far away and it’d be harder for my friends to see me play but with national television, I really don’t mind wherever I end up going,” Henle said. “It’s truly about wherever I feel comfortable with the coaching staff. Being at that place for four or five years, I just want to have a comfortable feeling there, so that I can enjoy the years that I’ll spend there.”
Unlike many prospects, Henle would definitely entertain the idea of redshirting his freshman year.
“Obviously there are pros and cons to everything,” Henle said. “On one side I’d love to redshirt somewhere and have a five year education. But also I wouldn’t mind at all going somewhere and playing right away. But I’ll go over all my offers and pick the best fit out of all of them.”
Henle used his imposing 6-foot-4 frame to haul in 41 catches for 579 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior for The Oakridge School. He has prioritized improving his blocking as he prepares for his senior season.
Central Michigan, UNLV, Bowling Green, Houston, Rice, and UTSA have also extended offers to Henle. But there’s no clear-cut leader at the moment.
“I really want to get my face out there at like junior days and kind of entertain my options and then around spring break I want to just focus on myself and get better and I’ll be able to graduate early so I’ll have to make a decision earlier,” Henle said. “That being said, I want to wait until spring practice is over, see who really wants me and who doesn’t, and make my decision in the summer.”