Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson: 'I'll be back for next year'

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson announced on Thursday he will return for a fifth season with the Spartans.

“I’ll be back for next year,” Henderson said in a post on Twitter.

Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson (3) and the Spartans defense has kept MSU hanging tight with Illinois.

The team captain and third-team All-Big Ten performer had said before the season that his intention was to play his senior season then enter the NFL Draft. However, at season’s end, Henderson had backed off that definitive plan, eventually deciding he’d take advantage of the extra season of eligibility offered to players who had the 2020 season shortened because of COVID.

Henderson has been one of Michigan State’s most steady players in the secondary, even as the Spartans’ pass defense struggled in the second half of the season. Henderson had 96 tackles in 13 games, including three sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. In 44 career games, Henderson, who hasn’t missed a full game in four seasons, has 235 tackles, including 14 for loss with three interceptions.

Henderson is the second key member of Michigan State’s team to announce they’ll be returning instead of heading to the NFL. On Wednesday, redshirt junior wide receiver Jayden Reed said he’d be back for the 2022 season.

The Spartans have lost four players early to the NFL Draft, including running back Kenneth Walker III, tight end Connor Heyward, wide receiver Jalen Nailor and offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis.

The Spartans (11-2) capped of their sixth 11-win season with a 31-21 victory over Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl.

Cornerback Ronald Williams also took to Twitter saying he'd be back in 2022, citing "unfinished business." 

The transfer from Alabama was listed as a senior by Michigan State he played in only three games with the Crimson Tide in 2020, meaning he could have two seasons of eligibility remaining — a redshirt year and the COVID year.

The former junior college standout started 10 of 13 games this season for the Spartans, finishing with 39 tackles, including a sack, while recording an interception and breaking up eight passes.


Twitter: @mattcharboneau