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Scouting UCF Commitment Demari Henderson

A look at one of UCF’s top football commitments, safety Demari Henderson.

ORLANDO - The UCF Football program scored big with the commitment of Demari Henderson. His overall athleticism and talent is evident even to the casual football fan, and his performance this past Friday night provides new insights into his game.

Adding to the evaluation would be Henderson’s ability to play basketball, another excellent way to grade a prospect because it helps to provide evidence for where the player is best suited to play.

Which roles he could play for the Knights is now expanding, and that’s a focal point below for this evaluation.

Demari Henderson

Demari Henderson Sanford (Fla.) Seminole - UCF Commitment

Demari Henderson, Safety, Sanford (Fla.) Seminole - 2022 UCF Commitment

Vitals: 6’1”, 163 pounds

Position: Safety

High School: Sanford (Fla.) Seminole

Recruitment: Committed to UCF on Oct. 25, 2021. To read about his commitment, as well as his brother Ja’Cari Henderson’s commitment, see this article.

Frame

Built like a basketball player, which is something that he’s done for a long time as well, Henderson is long and lanky. He’s honestly a prospect with just about as good a natural build as one would hope to find for playing in the defensive secondary. Most noticeable, Henderson’s extremely long arms and legs.

He will be adding weight once he’s enrolled at UCF this next summer, as it will help him to take on college players when they are blocking him, as well as his ability to tackle opposing players easier than he could now.

Athleticism

Elite. That’s a fact. If you have not yet watched Henderson’s football highlights or, better yet, his basketball highlights, that’s something that needs to be added to the to-do list. He’s an incredibly gifted athlete that will make spectacular plays on the gridiron or the basketball court.

Alley-oop dunks, a quick change of direction, excellent lateral quickness, very good hands for deflections, and the ability to stop and start is evident as a basketball or football player. As a premise of how to evaluate a player, Henderson’s basketball talent is the best marker for what he can do in the secondary for the Knights. Here’s why.

High school teams can throw away from Henderson on the football field. Fair enough. Once on a basketball court, however, there’s no place to hide. Henderson’s skills are a showcase for what he can do every time he steps on a basketball court. His film tells the tale.

As for the game against Apopka, seeing his sheer open-field speed via that touchdown catch is a really good sign. Few safeties run quite like Henderson. He consistently uses that speed as well. It’s just some adrenaline rush while playing flanker. That’s an every down situation for how he plays, and the Apopka game is no exception.

Physicality

He’s already happy to drive into a ball carrier and create a form tackle. During an inside run against Apopka, Henderson bent down, then drove into the ball carrier to create an excellent form tackle.

Seeing him go directly at the running back and make a tackle like that is a great sign that’s ready to play college football.

Best Attributes

Breaking on the ball. That’s the first thing that stands out when seeing Henderson play safety, and it’s much the same when watching him play hoops, too. College football is a passing game now. Henderson’s ability to close in on a pass and take it the other direction for a pick-six will be seen by UCF fans in the Bounce House sooner than many may think.

Watching him against Apopka, a team with a plethora of speedy athletes, the number of throws directly towards Henderson were zero. That’s smart. Apopka threw to the sidelines, underneath, and used double moves to try and offset Henderson’s skills.

At the college level, his speed and athleticism, combined with a natural penchant for knowing where the football will go, makes him a safety that will be able to get off the hash and drive on the football down the sidelines.

Most safeties do not possess the physical skills to do this. Adding Henderson’s determined to succeed mindset and natural football instincts just add to his athletic abilities.

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Primary Position Fit

Safety. That’s where he’s always played, and Henderson wants to continue to play safety. He also understands the value of playing in a nickel role, and it’s something that he will likely cross train at once he’s comfortable with his safety position. It’s still not the only way he can impact the secondary.

Versatility

Very few high school football players possess the ability to play more than two roles in the defensive secondary. For Henderson, two would not be enough. He’s definitely a player that will be playing a traditional safety position, but he’s also going to play at least two more roles, if needed, within the secondary.

First, he’s already capable of playing physical football, as noted above. That will allow him to be a man-to-man safety, even if that means playing right in front of the receiver or tight end at the line of scrimmage.

Against teams that like to operate in a 3x1 wide receiver set to help run wide receiver screens, Henderson can be that physical safety that takes on the tight end or big receiver attempting to block, yet he also can run and cover like a cornerback if it does not end up being a screen pass.

That rare combination of skills will place him on the field in nickel and dime packages, and he could technically be listed as a linebacker against a pass-happy offense like SMU, although it’s still really more of a safety role he will be playing even if he’s starting inside the tackle box. That’s true value with his versatility.

As an added bonus, this catch and run show his hands and speed during one play.

Areas to Improve

Physically, good to go. He just needs to add size and strength like any other player headed to the FBS level of college football. Mentally, he probably needs to study film so that he can be a part of as many different defensive packages as possible.

If Henderson comes into UCF mentally prepared to take on the film responsibility necessary to be a part of the nickel and/or dime packages, he could see significant early playing time. Each opponent is different, so that film work does not stop. Neither does Henderson’s mindset to play football though. He will do well in a Knights’ uniform.

For UCF coverage and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. For more college football, UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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