Offensive tackle is a premium position. Seantrel Henderson was a premium offensive tackle recruit. It makes sense that Henderson would cash in on his blue-chip status after starting nine games as a true freshman – earning Freshman All-American honors.
Henderson’s career arc didn’t quite arc in the fashion that many felt for the St. Paul, Minnesota native. At 6-foot-8 and nearly 340 pounds, Henderson was viewed as a can’t miss prospect that was courted by every major collegiate program.
Henderson’s recruitment wasn’t exactly smooth. He would commit to USC but not sign his national letter of intent until the end of March due to the pending NCAA investigation. In three months time – once USC received NCAA sanctions – Henderson would request to be released from his national letter of intent. USC granted the request without restrictions – paving the way for Henderson to Miami.
At Miami, Henderson would find a home at right tackle from day one with current Bronco Orlando Franklin locking down the left side. Henderson would make nine starts in 2010 and he appeared destined for future greatness. Unfortunately, that greatness has yet come to fruition.
Injuries, coaching changes, the Nevin Shapiro incident, personal issues, homesickness, and a car accident would derail Henderson from his track of greatness.
Needless to say Henderson’s sophomore season was a complete wash. He would make two starts and played in eight games after recovering from back surgery.
Would this be Henderson’s greatest Miami performance?
Things wouldn’t get much better in 2012 for the once-promising Henderson. Henderson was suspended for the first weekend of spring practice for a violation of team rules, which would also force him to miss the season opener against Maryland. Henderson would find himself riddled in more off-the-field issues along with personal tragedy. On August 1, 2012 Henderson was on his way to the funerals of a family member and close friend. On the way, Henderson was involved in a car accident and was cited for driving without a license unknowingly, disobeying a traffic sign, and driving with a suspended license.
Henderson on the field play was as spotty as his off-the-field indiscretions during the offseason. Henderson made seven starts at right tackle to mixed results. Henderson’s conditioning was an ongoing issues – as he had to be substituted for routinely. In addition to poor conditioning, Henderson appeared too heavy and slow footed. He often struggled in pass protection, securing the edge for Stephen Morris. Most concerning has been Henderson sporadic play as a run blocker throughout his career. One would expect someone with Henderson’s size to be a dominant force in the run game – but he’s been anything but. Henderson’s issues in the run game start with poor balance – often times finding himself on the ground.
Henderson sought out a draft grade from the NFL Advisory Committee despite playing very average as a junior. Henderson reported he received a fourth-round grade from the Committee, which wasn’t what he expected. Henderson would opt to stay for his senior season – a very wise decision on his part.
This spring we spent time at Miami and Henderson stood out in practice and the coaching staff talked of his increased self-awareness and commitment to being better than previous seasons. Maybe the best sign was Henderson obvious weight loss. While we didn’t get an official weight, it was clear he slimmed down from near 340 pounds. Quite possibly the best news for NFL talent evaluators and Canes fans is that its been a drama-free offseason – thus far. Despite the Nevin Shapiro incident still hanging over the programs head, Henderson has avoided any off-the-field pitfalls.
The upside for Henderson has always driven projections. Tom Lemming called him a cross between Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Pace out of high school. While he’s yet to live up to those expectations – its clear that his upside remains on the upward arc towards what could be a first-round NFL prospect. The question is will he ever live up towards his upside?