Michigan Scores with Henderson (Part 1)

The nation's #1 recruit, St. Paul (MN) Cretin Derham offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, made his way to Ann Arbor last week and GoBlueWolverine has gets an in-depth account of his thoughts on the visit. In part one of this feature we chat with his mentor and long time coach that accompanied him on the visit.

Seantrel Henderson Profile

Sam Webb:  You know Seantrel as well as anyone.  In your conversations with him, what are the things that he is looking for in a school? 

JD Pride:  "Mostly just a comfort level.  As a kid that can vary.  It's going to be getting on campus and talking to those coaches and seeing where his comfort level is ... and obviously what the coaches have to offer him ... and obviously it is going to be about education -- I think he is interested in business and business schools ... and just what his comfort level is with the staff ... and of course he has aspirations like a lot of kids that is playing on Sunday and how that works towards him developing himself to play on Sunday.  The social stuff -- he is obviously interested in as all kids will be.  Those are the same things that most kids are considering when they are looking at a school."

Sam Webb:  Is distance from home going to be a factor for him?

JD Pride:  "I don't think distance from home is going to be a big factor.  I think to get into the right program that suits him, and what he feels comfortable with, is going to be a main factor as to what is going on."

Sam Webb:  What are the things that coaches are telling you make him so special... that makes him the #1 player in the country?

JD Pride:  "Obviously his size.  He has got great size, as far as his muscle proportion and such.  Seantrel is big.  He's about 6'7", a little over; he's 300 pounds and he's nice and slim.  He has a great frame to put good muscle on.  The thing that I've talked to and heard about coaches is just his feet, his movement, how agile he is, how quick he is, and that's what's really making him special."

Sam Webb:  What are all the schools that Seantrel has been to so far?

JD Pride:  "I think Seantrel has been to Michigan, Michigan State, the University of Minnesota, and Iowa.   He went to Notre Dame early.  I took him and a bunch of kids down to Notre Dame, but they were younger.  He hasn't been to Notre Dame in the last year or two.  Those are the schools hat he has been with as far as football goes, unofficial visits go.  We plan on going to a number of schools this summer.  We do plan on going down to Columbus and visit (Ohio State).  We haven't set a date yet as to when we plan on going into Columbus.  It is one of the schools that he has interest."

Sam Webb:  What made you guys decide to travel up to Michigan last weekend?  What did Seantrel think of the trip? 

JD Pride:  "You know it was like going way back, because I've been putting these kids in my van and traveling since they were 10 years old.  Whether it was at the AAU Nationals or some basketball tournament in Florida or wherever.  So it was like recapping déjà vu obviously having them in the car and moving around with my wife there and she is fixing sandwiches and such.  We decided just to take off and go and check schools out.  I didn't want schools to make a big deal of us coming in.  I think it worked out pretty well.  They had a couple of hours notice that we were going to be there.  We could see then how they really work and how they function.  It wasn't going to be this big song and dance that the #1 kid was coming.  I thought we got a chance to really see those schools for what they were… the coaching staffs for what they were.  They were unable to sit down for hours and go great distances with what they were going to do with him and I thought it worked out well.  The kids liked all the schools.  We went to Michigan State first on Thursday and watched the kids get timed and talked to the coaches.  I was able to talk to the head coaches and stuff.  On Friday, we got up and we went over and checked out the coaches at Michigan and got a chance to talk to Coach Rodriguez and everyone, and they were very nice also.  Then we came back (Saturday) and watched the Michigan practices. They had spring practice and we watched a Michigan practice on Saturday; and also Saturday afternoon, we went down to Eastern Michigan to see Coach English and his program."

Sam Webb:  You said you got a chance to see the guys go at each other at Michigan.  What did you think of the atmosphere in the practice, the coaching styles at the practice? What did your kids think of that?

JD Pride:  "I found the practices ran real well, but my kids are used to having practices run well.  I mean their timing and everything.  Both schools that they go to right now, Cretin Derham Hall and Totino Grace, are very well coached programs.  So it was no surprise to them as to how practice was run. I did think that Michigan had a system of running right.  I think they mentioned a couple of times they enjoyed the music that was going on while the practice was going on there at Michigan.  I thought it was an up tempo practice and believe me, I think they were very impressed with what they call the M drill there."

Sam Webb:  Right, the Michigan drill.

JD Pride:  "Right, the Michigan drill there; and I thought they would really like that.  The kids were into it, and so I think even mom kind of got fired up with that one (laughter).  It was pretty good.  They left with an impression.  They also thought that the Michigan study hall was great.  They were really impressed with that."

Sam Webb:  You said Seantrel got a chance to really meet and talk to Coach Rodriguez and Rod Smith; what did those guys have to say to Seantrel?

JD Pride:  "We talked to Coach Rodriguez in his office; and we asked him: is his offense conducive for Seantrel being able to prepare himself for going to the next level.  Coach told me that they do a lot of zone blocking and such, which they do do in the pros and stuff.  That is going to be one of the factors that we're going to look at as far as getting Seantrel there.  Is that system really going to help him get to the next level and give him an opportunity, I should say, to play on Sundays?  What system might better prepare him for that?  Those are the questions that Seantrel's parents trust in me as far as being a coach and mentor and close family friend... helping them decide what would be a good program for him."

Sam Webb:  I know he was just at these schools this weekend, but do you think for instance that he will be making a return visit to Michigan?

JD Pride:  "We haven't decided on that yet.  There is a bunch of schools out there obviously that are interested in him.  We are not going to be going to a ton of schools.  I mean he's got five schools that he can officially visit next year and I think he and my son JD are trying to figure out which ones they are going to be as far as official visits.  So they are kind of figuring that stuff out as they go.  I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan would be one of those schools.  I thought they liked Michigan a lot and Coach Rodriguez.  I thought Coach Rodriguez was a pretty good, humble guy.  I thought he was a down to earth, good West Virginian. We kind of come from the same part of the country.  Me and my wife grew up in North Carolina and he seemed a pretty straight forward guy to me.  He didn't seem to have a lot of bells and whistles, promising this and doing that.  I thought it was a pretty good feel for the coach on that.  My wife seemed to like him when he sat on the sidelines and visited her on the sidelines for a bit.  Seantrel seemed to like him okay too.  It is not a bad deal.  I was glad we took the trip.  Like I said, we haven't been in the van traveling across country in a couple of years and it was like old times for us."

Sam Webb: I know Seantrel has a very long list of suitors, but does he have a main group?   What are the schools that he is seriously considering at this point?

JD Pride:  "He said Florida, Florida State.  He mentioned Iowa, but he didn't mention them as really at the top at this point.  He mentioned Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan USC and I think he might have mentioned Oklahoma."

Sam Webb:  You mentioned a trip to Ohio State earlier?

JD Pride:  "I'm sorry and Ohio State, thank you for reminding me of that."

Sam Webb:  The last thing I sort of wanted to get from you as far as the interview is concerned: when you talk to Seantrel and you're advising him on the things to look for that are important -- what are the things that you are stressing the most?

JD Pride:  "Education for one thing, because nothing is given out here on the field. A perfect case is that we went down to see Antonio Bass; you know it, you are very familiar with the Antonio Bass situation.  Here is a kid that physically had everything.  They are still ranting and raving about him at the Michigan complex as to what a great athlete he was and where he could play on both sides of the ball, on both sides of the field, and unfortunately with no contact this guy messed his knee up and caused some nerve damage. Well, it's over with.  But you know what?  I love that kid from what I know about him. I've known him for about five years, and what a standup kid.  This kid says okay, he lives with it, he dealt with the situation, and he has continued to go on.  He's going to graduate on time with a great degree from the University of Michigan. I mean, what character – what character - and those are the things that I stress with Seantrel, my son or anybody.  You know what, there are a lot of people out there that would like to play on Sundays, but you know stuff happens and you have to prepare yourself with an education.  That's something that you're going to have to live on even after (football), if you are lucky enough to play a few years.  What's the life expectancy for a football player, three or four years?  You're 25 or 26 years old and that's done."

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