Former Gators' CJ Henderson 'Thankful' to Be Selected by Jaguars in NFL Draft
It was a dream come true for former Gators cornerback CJ Henderson last night after he was selected in the top-10 of the 2020 NFL Draft, going to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the ninth-overall selection, something an emotional Henderson told the local Jaguars media via Zoom video conference he was 'thankful' for and just 'soaked it all in' with his family following hearing the call from the Jaguars' brass.
For collegiate players taking their game to the next level, it truly becomes a dream-come-true situation. Going from once an NFL-hopeful, to now getting ready to truly live your dream. That's what was likely going through Henderson's mind on Thursday night.
As confident as he was as a Gators cornerback, starting as a true freshman and quickly becoming the team's number one cornerback over the next two seasons, he was just as much so during his conference call.
When asked how he would be able to fill former Jaguars cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye's shoes, he simply stated: "Yeah, I’m definitely ready to take on the challenge. I’m ready for it.”
He didn't mince words when asked about what he will bring to the table as a corner now at the highest level: “I’m very smart and very athletic, and I plan to use that to work on and in the film room. I plan to use both of those added onto my athleticism and I plan to dominate,” said Henderson without skipping a beat.
He will be ready for it. With the Jaguars, Henderson will become the team's number one or number two cornerback instantly. Stepping in for former Pro Bowl defensive backs is no easy task, but then again, Henderson did well in his journey during his time at Florida by stepping in for former Gators defensive backs Quincy Wilson and Duke Dawson, who left for the NFL shortly before and after he arrived on campus in 2017, respectively.
Florida Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham stated in the past he believed Henderson was the best cornerback he has ever coached, high praise coming from one of the more respected coordinators in college football.
“I think that’s huge coming from a coach like him and the great corners that he has coached," Henderson told the local Jacksonville media. "That’s huge and being the top dog. That’s a huge honor and I’m thankful for that and I’m continuing to work.”
Henderson gets to stay in Florida, something he is thankful for and says makes him feel the most comfortable, able to stay close to his home city in South Florida, only a few hours away from Jacksonville, and not far away from his former university in Gainesville, Florida.
As for what he brings to the Jaguars? Henderson confidently and calmly said he can "take out opponents and number one receivers and I plan to do that [in Jacksonville]", perhaps something Gators fans have been used to seeing over the past three seasons.
Henderson admitted that he is a "very reserved" person, but to not mistake that for being shy, not at all. "I work hard, and you’ll earn my respect.”
During the call, Henderson was surprised by a familiar face, head coach Dan Mullen. Mullen, as he is wont to do, expressed excitement for Henderson, telling him:
"Congratulations (C.J.), we're fired up, we're excited for you. I'll tell you what, that might be the best pick the Jags have made in a long, long time, so I know they're going to be thrilled and everybody in Florida's excited to have you at home."
While Henderson will almost assuredly have room to grow as he makes his transition into the NFL, his impact on Florida will not be forgotten.