Posts Tagged ‘Seantrel Henderson

07
Jul
10

Miami Twice?

Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Randy Shannon and Seantrel Henderson (Photo by Vince Muzik)

Much to my surprise, USC released Seantrel Henderson from his letter of intent today. I thought they’d fight harder, but I think the decision will serve bother parties well. Based on what I know, I’m not sure Miami wasn’t Seantrel’s first choice to begin with. And here’s why:

Between 1:00 and 1:30 p.m. CST on National Signing Day, Feb. 3, a PIPOL (person in a position of leadership) at Cretin-Derham Hall High School (CDH) got a text from Trel. He was in New York waiting to announce his college selection on Tom Lemming’s TV show. The message? “Miami.” The PIPOL at CDH texted him back for confirmation: Miami? “Yes, Miami,” Trel said. That person went on to show a bunch of other employees at CDH Trel’s message. (I can name a bunch of them who saw it.) I don’t think it was a coincidence the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran that information on their web site around 2:30 p.m. Except it turned out to be wrong.

At 4:30 p.m. CST when Seantrel made his announcement, he picked USC. Either Seantrel had a change of heart or he was just being a prankster, just to tug at the chain of his superior. I’m not sure we’ll ever know the answer to that one. However, I do know something.

The visit the Miami Hurricanes got from Seantrel that last weekend in January, the NFL Pro Bowl Weekend as it turned out to be, was the visit Oklahoma was supposed to get. Heading into December, the schools on Trel’s list were “the Big 5 plus one.” The Big 5 were USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida and Oklahoma. The “plus one” was Minnesota, the local school. Two other schools were on the periphery, Iowa and Miami. Oklahoma had tried to arrange a time for Trel to visit, but things just didn’t work out. Keep in mind, Seantrel’s high school football team played until the last Friday in November when they won the state championship. After that, basketball season started and the Christmas holiday wasn’t too far past that. The available weekends for visits withered away. When Oklahoma faded, Miami became appealing and got him to visit. From everything I heard, he had a great time meeting the brotherhood of Miami Hurricanes. It does pay to persevere, doesn’t it?

01
Jul
10

News Flash: Seantrel Henderson is not at USC

All the boys from So Cal: The Kiffins (Monte and Lane) along with James Cregg and Ed Orgeron.

It sure didn’t take long for the word to get out about Seantrel Henderson not showing up at USC last week. Yesterday afternoon I got a call from someone from the west coast who had a source at USC tell him not only was Seantrel not coming, but that USC wasn’t going to let him out of his letter of intent (LOI). Interesting. Seems to me the athletic department at USC leaks information like my bathtub faucet leaks water.

I couldn’t help the guy. To be honest, I have no idea what’s going on. And if I did, I wouldn’t tell anyone let alone a sportwriter. (Duh!)  But I know enough that if I were a betting man, I would wager where there’s smoke there’s fire. (Actually, the Star Tribune did a good little piece on this scenario.) Something isn’t quite right here that much I can tell. Seantrel’s a neat kid with immense talent who deserves some sort of closure on this chapter of his life. I just want to see him playing ball this fall for somebody’s school, and I want the best for him.

05
Apr
10

ESPN’s 30 for 30: “The U”

ESPN must have a thing for running this particular documentary on holiday nights. The first time I watched “The U” by Billy Corben was back on Christmas night, then I caught it again last night (Easter).

This happens to be my favorite documentary so far in the “30 for 30” series,  a documentary series of 30 films commemorating ESPN’s thirtieth anniversary. It has some really good insights into how the University of Miami, a small school located in Coral Gables, Fla., with no history, no tradition and no facilities, became a national football power quickly, a “microwave dynasty” as former Hurricanes player Melvin Bratton put it. Between 1983-2001, the Hurriances won five national titles, four in a nine-year stretch (1983-1991) with three different head coaches (Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson).

After learning about college football recruiting from my time spent at Cretin-Derham Hall High School and watching Seantrel Henderson go through the process — and he saw at all! — a few things stood out about how Miami built their program.

When Howard Schnellenberger stood at the podium in 1979, he said it was his plan to win a national championship at the University of Miami within five years. I’m sure lots of people thought he was smoking something else besides tobacco in that pipe that became his trademark. In short, he was really a genius. Give some due credit to his wife, Beverly. According to the doc, she convinced him to give up his gig as the offensive line coach of the Miami Dolphins and take the job at the school. Schnellenberger knew that football is a way of life in South Florida. High school games routinely outdrew University of Miami games.There are a lot of kids who play, and a lot of good athletes.  Most of them are black. He decided to win “the state of Miami.” Some of that “state” is pretty tough. Even today there are parts of the city you wouldn’t want to get stuck in when the sun went down.  In the late ’70s inner city Miami had it’s share of problems, lots of crime related to drug trafficking. That didn’t stop Schnellenberger from going into “the hood” to recruit the best players he could find. Schnellenberger went there; he didn’t just send his assistants. That’s one key in the recruiting game: If the head coach shows up to recruit a kid, that means that school is INTERESTED. In other words, they are making a priority to get that player. As one player said in the doc, “They (Schnellenberger and his staff) went to places where others wouldn’t go.” And I’m sure word got around: The guys at Miami were sincere. They got to know all those players better than any other college team could because they were local and they used it to their advantage.

Coach Randy Shannon - Photo by Vince Muzik

I had a chance to meet current Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon, a former linebacker at “The U,” when he came through Minneapolis-St. Paul to recruit Seantrel. The list of great players that wore that definitive “U” logo on the Miami Hurricanes helmets is endless. Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testeverde, Michael Irvin, Steve Walsh, Warren Sapp, Eddie Brown, Alonso Highsmith, Ed Reed, Benny Blades — and on and on. They played with an attitude, and some of them in the film haven’t lost it even as they’ve hit middle age. Naturally, I wondered what the reaction was to it. Coach Shannon told me he received a lot of positive feedback from this film, even though he wasn’t in it.

If that’s so, here’s one parting thought: For Miami to get back on top Coach Shannon needs to use the amazing story told in “The U”  of the Miami Hurricanes emergence as a power to his advantage. As it stands now, Miami’s web site doesn’t even scratch the surface of the testimonies of those Hurricane alumni. In fact, their web site is really whitebread! As I learned from him, there’s a brotherhood of past Hurricanes. In the NFL off season, those guys come to Miami because of the loyalty to the program. In terms of digital marketing, they need to remind recruits of that. The Florida Gators have taken over college ball in that state. Miami’s brand is as definitive as their white helmets and orange jerseys. They even have music to go with it. Don’t lose that edge because… it’s a ‘Canes thing!

23
Dec
09

Seantrel Wins USA Today’s Offensive Player of the Year

Cretin-Derham Hall offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson was named the USA Today Offensive Football Player of the Year today, the first time in the 27-year history of the award a lineman has ever won the honor. As a caveat, Seantrel’s picture ran in the upper left corner of the paper, two inches away from a photo of Michael Jackson, even in death the most famous guy on the planet.
Seantrel had a great quote in the article, one one with some intelectual punch but that’s humble at the same time. He showed why when gets a little more mature and a little more comfortable in front of a microphone he’ll be a lot of fun to listen to:

 “A lot of people don’t understand that everything starts at the front line… The offensive line, we’re protecting all those all those other offensive guys that are getting the ball and are getting those awards.”

He’s right. The offensive line is the engine of a football team. If you can’t run the ball, you can’t control the clock. If you can’t pass protect, you won’t be able to defend the de facto leader of your team, the quarterback. Good luck hearing that on ESPN or FOX or any other network when they show football highlights. Most of that stuff is for fantasy football players, not for those wanting to understand the nuances of the game. Perhaps the movie “The Blind Side” will change all that in the future. Let’s hope.

02
Dec
09

Cleveland Plain Deals Dials My Number

Doug Lesmerises, the Ohio State beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, called me this early evening to inquire about the YouTube video I did on Seantrel Henderson’s official visit to Ohio State. Word has got around about Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel’s home visit to the Henderson’s home this evening. The head coach was accompanied by his brother, Dick, the running backs coach at OSU who was the head football coach at Hamline University in St. Paul for 21 years (1979-2000). Lesmerises did an update in his Buckeye blog incorporating my video. Check it out.

25
Nov
09

Everybody’s Number One: Seantrel Visits to Ohio State

Seantrel Henderson, Tom Lemming and rivals.com’s No. 1 high school football prospect in the country from Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minn., takes you through his recruiting trip to Ohio State, including his sit down discussion with Head Coach Jim Tressel.

What impressed me most about Seantrel’s visit was that the president of Ohio State, E. Gordon Gee, was at the game and made a point to introduce himself to him: “Seantrel Henderson, I know everything about you…” Memo to football recruits: If the president of the university you are visiting bothers to be there to introduce himself to you, they take football seriously! Another thing was the avuncular demeanor ( i.e., like an uncle) of Coach Jim Tressel. He seems like a cool guy, one you would like coaching your son. Can’t wait to meet him the next time he’s in the Twin Cities.

22
Nov
09

Iowa: The Unofficial Visit

Seantrel Henderson takes in the Minnesota-Iowa football game last Saturday in Iowa City along with his teammates James McGuire and Mark Alt.

As my friend from the University of Iowa Athletic Department told me, Seantrel Henderson, the No. 1 high school football recruit in the country, was the talk of the press box before last Saturday’s Minnesota-Iowa game. The conversation went something like this: “Gee, isn’t he big?”  Judging by the number of Brainerd High School players staring across the field before their game against Cretin-Derham Hall (CDH) the night before — which CDH won — being the biggest thing going has its advantages.