The arrival of the scholarship offer D.J. Henderson had been waiting on didn’t leave much of a need to take visits and converse with other schools.
Tennessee was the pick, and Henderson pulled the trigger on a verbal commitment late Thursday.
“It’s just the tradition and the atmosphere,” Henderson told InsideTennessee. “It’s beautiful down there in Tennessee and I just didn’t think any other school would give me the same and it’s closer to home.”
The offer arrived Wednesday. It was music to the ears of Henderson, who’s Southern at heart. The Dodge City (Kan.) Community College cornerback has been in contact with Tennessee coach Butch Jones and defensive backs coach Willie Martinez for two weeks.
“I wanted to jump up and down,” Henderson said. “I was too excited. I had to call all of my family. They were in tears just about.”
Henderson’s future position coach received the first word of his declaration.
“They were very excited,” Henderson said. “(Martinez) up and quick called all the coaching staff, let them know that I was committed.
“(Martinez) told me it’s a great place to be. He feels like I can fit right into their scheme and the way they run things. He said he likes my film. So he said it’s a great place for me.”
Henderson is teammates with another of the Vols’ 2016 class commitments and competes against him weekly in practice. Dodge City wide receiver Jeff George pledge to the Orange & White back on June 6.
“Me and Jeff have been talking all week,” said Henderson, who plans to join George by enrolling at Tennessee in January. “He said it’s the place to be. He said he couldn’t find anywhere that would be better for him and it provided everything he needed. He said it’s definitely worth it.”
It was academic concerns that left Henderson needing to go the JUCO route after competing at Byrnes (S.C.) High School, but he says he is “good to go now.”
Henderson knows a fellow former Byrnes standout and former Volunteer defensive end Corey Miller but the two have not yet spoken about the commitment. Henderson hasn’t been to Rocky Top but undoubtedly had some knowledge of the program.
"I wanted to jump up and down. I was too excited." — D.J. Henderson
“I knew that they could hold a lot of people in the stadium, and I knew that Peyton Manning played there. I know coach Martinez coached a cornerback (former Georgia and NFL defensive back Prince Miller) from my high school that I watched growing up, and I learned a lot from.”
The true sophomore plans to learn much more about Tennessee during an official visit this fall, which could take place the weekend of Nov. 28 when the Big Orange hosts Vanderbilt.
The Dodge City pair are just two more prospects from the Jayhawk Conference that staffs in Knoxville have pursued. Others include former Hutchinson Community College standouts Alvin Kamara and Cordarrelle Patterson, former Garden City Community College blocker Dontavius Blair and Butler Community College alum Owen Williams.
“I know who Cordarrelle is and I played against Alvin Kamara last year,” said Henderson, who totaled 46 tackles (32 solo), two interceptions and recovered fumble in 2014. “I’ve got a good feel about who they are, but I haven’t talked to them yet.”
The 5-foot-11, 173-pounder who reps 225 pounds on the bench press an estimated four times, described his game out on the island.
“I’m a true cover guy, I can run, I’m really good at playing the ball and when it comes to being physical I feel like I can be a little bit better, but I can definitely be physical when you want me to be.”
North Texas, UAB and Utah State also had offers on the table.