University of Miami Hurricanes
St. Paul, Minnesota
Cretin-Derham Hall High School
Henderson is a mountain of a man, one that moves like a linebacker, rather than a lumbering lineman, though. That could be because of his raw athleticism that saw colleges also pursue him for the hardwood courts almost as heavy as they did to secure his services for the gridiron. His path to the Hurricanes was a bit unintended though, as he originally signed his national letter of intent to attend the University of Southern California before being released from his commitment in July 2010 and eventually committed to the University of Miami.
Henderson had experienced the rigors of high school life that can become compounded when you are a multi-sport athlete. Add into that, being one that is recruited by almost every major college. Throw on top of that, being the nation's top prospect and having over fifty scholarship offers sitting on your prep coach's desk, yet unread, and you have some idea of what it was like to be Seantrel Henderson in 2009.
Cretin-Derham Hall High School has been home to a number of great prospects over the years, even a few who are among the elite in the nation. However, in Henderson, their offensive tackle was the first prospect they had who was unanimously considered the top prospect in the country.
The then 6-foot-7, 310-pound offensive tackle also had scholarship offers in basketball (seriously considered attending Marquette and St. Louis for hoops), a tribute to the athleticism he possesses in that frame. Those offers on the hardwood still paled in comparison to the ones he had for football. With all that to sift through, he luckily had a history of top athletes to pull from at his school.
"Mike Floyd, Shady Solomon, Matt Carufel, I talked to them periodically, especially Mike," Henderson said, "They said that it would be my decision where I go. Don't listen to anyone's opinions. This is the time I can be selfish about something. They said to go with my instinct, because it is the biggest decision I'll ever make." Henderson has always been bigger than everyone his age. When he began football in second grade, he had to play three grades up, which gave him a rough introduction to the game.
"I wasn't that good at all," he admitted, "I was terrible. I got sick of getting knocked down all the time because they all knew what they were doing and it was my first year. Then I got better and kept getting better and better." That is somewhat of an understatement, as he now is one of the top draft prospects in the country. Still, he says basketball is his first love. He still plays pick-up games and admits that he was considering trying both sports in college, although he was aware of his massive potential on the gridiron.
"I started noticing that I had body for football and I was better at football, anybody could see that. I know I could still play basketball too, if I want to play in college. I would like to, but I know it's going to be a lot of hard work. If I have it in me to do two, I'll do two."
The degree to which he was being recruited in both sports has made the entire process quite hectic for Henderson. Between school, practice, traveling for AAU and visits, he had to field questions from reporters, read e-mails and answer calls from coaches and still try to find time for himself. He had not given out his home phone number, a move designed to insulate himself somewhat and he says he still was able to find time for himself.
"I just know that everything had to be done. I put it to myself to make sure I got everything done, then when I go hangout, I go hangout. I chill with my girlfriend or when I'm by myself, I sometimes I take walks to get away and think about everything."
Henderson waited until "Signing Day" to make a decision, cutting the list down to 10 school before he first chose Southern California. When he first announced his college decision on Tom Lemming's television show on CBS College Sports on National Signing Day, he verbally committed to the Trojans, but did not sign his letter of intent until after USC went before the NCAA infractions committee on to respond to allegations relating to a scandal involving Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush.
Henderson finally signed his letter of intent on March 22nd, 2010. When the NCAA rendered its decision banning USC from postseason play for two years and imposing severe scholarship reductions, Henderson asked to be released from his commitment to USC. Henderson was released from his commitment to USC on July 6th, 2010.
A month later, once he was released from that commitment, he enrolled at the University of Miami, and wasted little time getting on the field, starting nine games as a 355-pound right tackle. He was named the team's Newcomer of the Year and earned Freshman All-American honors for his efforts.
Offseason back surgery prior to his sophomore campaign did not go well, as Henderson still had problems with his hip. He would be limited to eight appearances in 2011, starting just two contests, vs. Duke and South Florida, but it was clear that that he still needed more time to recover.
Henderson would undergo yet another trying off-season prior to the 2012 schedule that would result in him being suspended briefly, the second time at Miami he would end up in the coach's doghouse, as he first served a suspension by sitting out the 2011 season opener.
An incident during March camp earned Henderson another season opener suspension from head coach Al Golden. Then, in August, he was cited for three motor vehicle violations following a car accident, as police reports state he ran a red light and hit a car carrying a family including a five-year old girl that was ejected from the car and lived.
Even with the suspension for the start of 2012, Henderson showed up significantly late for a summer of 2012 training session. He then missed the first three practices following the death of a childhood friend and missed more practice time to attend a family member's funeral during 2012 fall camp.
First listed second on the depth chart at left tackle, Henderson eventually started the final seven contests on the right side. His dominance as a drive blocker and ability to stall edge rushers helped the team average 295.4 yards per game passing and an average of 440.2 yards per game in total offense, earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorable mention.
A third-team All-ACC choice as a senior, Henderson started eight games at right tackle in 2013, helping anchor an offense that averaged 425.8 yards per game, along with scoring a total of 440 points. He delivered 10 touchdown-resulting blocks to go with 56 knock-downs, earning an invitation to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl.
Henderson took an opportunity in Mobile, Alabama, to open up about his past off-field issues. He discussed with teams ands media in attendance about the reasons why he was suspended at least three times by the University of Miami coaches and was considered a disappointment for not living up to his massive potential.
Now faced with the prospect of trying to earn an NFL future, Henderson told the Miami Herald at the Senior Bowl that he was suspended last year for use of illegal drugs. From the Herald: "I was partying a little bit too much at times," Henderson said, when asked to explain his three (at least) suspensions at UM. "I had got into trouble a couple of times for marijuana. I just put all that behind me."
Such candor is refreshing for anyone - let alone someone trying to make the National Football League. "Honesty is key," Henderson said, when asked why he elected to discuss his past trouble with drugs. Use of illegal drugs is against UM athletics policy.
Heading into his senior year, Henderson had been suspended at least two times– and dealt with several injuries and off-the-field issues. In August, Henderson's teammates and coaches expressed hope he had changed, but by October, he was suspended again. At that time, coach Al Golden said he hoped Henderson would explain himself.
"I'm not going to answer these questions for Seantrel anymore," Golden said. But while apologizing for his latest transgression, Henderson declined to elaborate on what he had done, saying only he "broke one of the team rules. I apologize and I'm just trying to move on now."
Henderson started 26 of the 43 games that he appeared in at the University of Miami, finishing his career with 211 knockdowns and 25 touchdown-resulting blocks.