Illini search North Carolina For Talent

The Fighting Illini have found recruiting success in the Tar Heel state in recent years with quarterback Jacob Charest and defensive back Walt Aikens. Coach Kurt Beathard has continued to prowl the state in search of talented players. Gabriel Henderson is a player that fits the bill and has received strong interest from Illinois.

The Southeast Raleigh High School has a remarkably successful season last fall. Despite losing in the 3rd round of the playoffs to Hillside High School from Durham, the future of the Bulldog football team looks promising after a campaign that included a seven game winning streak.

"We went 11-3 and made it to the 3rd round of the playoffs," Gabe Henderson explains. "We return a lot of our starters so we expect to make it farther in the playoffs. I played strictly quarterback this past year. Next year I'll be moving around more."

The signal caller has received a lot of interest.

"Colleges are looking at me as a quarterback, but Maryland is looking at me as a receiver."

The list of suitors for Gabe is extensive and nationwide. Off the top of his head, he recalled a long list of schools.

"Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Maryland, Clemson, Oregon, Illinois, Stanford, Colorado, Central Florida, South Florida, Notre Dame, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Louisville, Michigan State, Kent State, Virginia, and Buffalo are some of the schools who have expressed interest."

So far, he has picked up a couple of offers, but more are certain in his future.

"Kent State and Buffalo have given me written offer. I have verbal offers from Virginia Tech and Virginia."

The 6'-0", 190 quarterback doesn't mind attending college away from his home in North Carolina.

"I'll go to whichever school is best for me. Distance plays a small role, but it isn't a big factor in my choice.

Gabe has a childhood favorite football team, basketball team, and football player.

"I grew up a UNC basketball fan and a Florida State football fan. I looked up to (Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver and former FSU Seminole) Anquan Boldin. I have a personal relationship with him. He and my dad are real good friends. Anquan's very close to the family. I grew up in Belle Glade, Florida, which is just down the street from Pahokee High School (the high school Boldin attended)."

Although he does not currently have an offer from Illinois, that certainly hasn't diminished his interest in the Illini.

"I've talked to Coach Beathard through mostly mail, email, and written letters. My interest is pretty high and if they offer, it'll be even higher. Juice Williams is one of my favorite quarterbacks. I'll probably camp at Illinois. I was planning on going to Illinois during the spring, but the trip was cancelled. I'm interested in Illinois."

The Bulldog quarterback has other schools he would like to camp at as well.

"I'll probably pick between Virginia and Virginia Tech for a camp. I'd like to camp at Michigan State and Tennessee and maybe a few others."

He also had a busy spring.

"I went to a spring practice at North Carolina State and junior days at NC State, Wake Forest, Clemson, and Virginia Tech."

Even with such significant interest from colleges, Gabe knows he also must continue to improve.

"I want to improve on my maturity as a quarterback. I want to improve on knowing when to run and when to pass. Decision-making is a strength of mine, but I'd like to keep on improving it."

Gabe reports a 22 ACT score and will take the SAT in the upcoming weeks. He has a 3.2 GPA.

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