In a year when Michael Lewis' book The Blind Side became a box office hit, the position that current NFL star Michael Oher helped to make more famous is now becoming somewhat of an obsession at the prep football level. The nation's consensus top player, Seantrel Henderson, is very much in the mold of Oher, who now protects Joe Flacco's back. There hasn't been a more coveted or hyped lineman in the past decade than Henderson, who hails from Saint Paul, Minn.
This past week, Henderson participated in the U.S. Army Player of the Year media tour as one of seven finalists hoping to win the prestigious award. Henderson is the only player in the trenches up for an award that has never been won by an offensive lineman. Simply put, Seantrel Henderson is probably the most polished lineman of the past decade.
Although these are hectic times for the 6-foot-8, 300-plus-pound left tackle, he is as composed as ever these days.
"Things are going good," Henderson said. "Had visits recently to USC and Notre Dame. I am heading down to Florida this week."
But it hasn't been a smooth ride all along. The pressure of being the top player in the nation and the poster boy for the prototypical offensive lineman has been extremely grueling at times. Henderson said that he has really matured over the past year, having to learn time management and how to juggle competing interests that come with being the nation's top player. It hasn't been easy, and admits to contemplating quitting the sport within the last year.
"I thought about it for a bit," Henderson said of having to deal with the pressure. "But then I realized I'd miss football too much. I love it. I wouldn't want to be without it."
He lists the usual priorities in choosing a school, from academics to prestige to the overall vibe of the coaching staff. Right now, Henderson says that his top four include Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC. He may take one more official visit in January after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but he is uncertain which campus would get that fifth and final visit. In addition, Henderson was attempting to schedule an official visit at Minnesota last weekend, but his participation in the player of the year tour prevented it from happening.
Henderson did say that the recent firing of Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weiss will not impact his opinion of the Fighting Irish. While newly minted head coach Brian Kelly has not yet reached out to Henderson, the nation's top player says Notre Dame is still "in the mix." Henderson did seem surprised that he hasn't heard from Kelly, but indicated that he wasn't willing to write South Bend off quite yet.