Seantrel Henderson )
Who's the bestprospect in the country? Well, since player evaluations are by their nature subjective, answers vary as widely as the weather in Michigan. However, every once in a while a player transcends debate and becomes a consensus No. 1. There's such a player in the 2010 recruiting class: 6-foot-8, 301-pound offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin Hall.
Henderson already has more than 30 scholarship offers, with Michigan and Michigan State among his favorites.
Late last month Henderson piled into a van with a few friends and longtime mentor J.D. Pride for a road trip to the Great Lakes state.
When a headline recruit visits a campus, it's customary for the school to roll out the red carpet. Time and care are put into preparing the best possible presentation. That's expressly why Henderson gave virtually no notice of his visit. He wanted to observe the teams' normal routines.
Michigan State, which entered the equation recently thanks to Pride's longtime friendships with former Spartans Sherman Lewis and Charlie Baggett, was the first stop.
"It was just real cool," Henderson said. "The campus, stadium and the football facilities -- everything was cool. I like them. Michigan State is in my top 10."
From there Henderson and company hit the road for Ann Arbor. He characterized that visit as "pretty cool," too.
Particularly memorable at U-M, Henderson said, was the atmosphere in the weight room and at practice. Strength coach Mike Barwis struck a chord.
"He's real intense," Henderson said. "Their practice is real intense, too. Michigan was probably the most intense."
Wooing Henderson could be affected by the courtship of his friend, J.D. Pride II. Pride is a dual-threat quarterback from Fridley (Minn.) Totino Grace. The two have indicated that they aren't necessarily a package deal, but they've spoken openly about their desire to play together.
"We're thinking about it," Henderson said. "We like the same things, but then there might be something that he might not like. We'll try to make that happen if that will be (best) for both of us."
To date, Henderson and Pride are on opposite ends of the offer spectrum. The summer and fall will be very telling when it comes to the number of options available for the two as a package.
"I think (Pride) really has one (offer) right now (from Minnesota)," Henderson reported. "He had a bad year last year because injuries and everything. This year might go better as far as getting recruited."
The Gophers made Henderson a major priority quite some time ago, and their courtship of Pride has only helped their cause. They round out the list of early favorites with Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, South Carolina, USC, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. Many of those programs will receive visits in the coming months. Any not taken during the offseason will likely be taken during the fall as officials. When on the various campuses, Henderson will be looking for attributes that all recruits are in search of.
"Everybody says first is education, and I think about that a lot too," Henderson stated. "I think about what I want to major in and things I want to do. I want a school that is going to give me a good education in the end -- just pretty much a school that I'm comfortable with."
Education has been a point of emphasis for Pride, who is being leaned on by Henderson for advice during the recruiting process. His experience as a former athlete himself and familiarity with numerous other recruiting stories like that of family friend and former Michigan Wolverine Antonio Bass, have given him useful perspective.
"I consult with (Henderson's parents) about what they think," answered Pride when asked to describe his role in Henderson's recruitment. "They believe in me -- that I have their son's best interest in mind. I've proved that on, and more importantly, off the field."
"Nothing is a given out here on the field," he continued. "A perfect case is the Antonio Bass situation. Here is a kid that physically had everything. They are still ranting and raving about him at the Michigan complex. 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. I've known him for about five years, and what a standup kid. 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. What character. What character! Those are the things that I stress with Seantrel, my son, or anybody. "
At the moment Henderson isn't in any rush to determine which school best fits his criteria. He'll have plenty of time to compare and contrast his suitors thanks to a plan that calls for him to make his decision after the season during one of the national All Star games. Both the Army All American and the ESPN Under Armour games are courting him heavily. He was at one time rumored to be headed to the Army contest, but has since indicated that he is at the same stage of making that decision as he is which college he'll attend.
"I'm still trying to figure that out too," he said.
Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA.
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