Jacksonville Jaguars corner CJ Henderson has spent his offseason focusing on furthering education and progress. The former Florida Gator returned to Gainesville this spring to finish his degree. And on Monday it was announced the 22-year old was donating a quarter of a million dollars to his high school athletic program.
A Miami native, Henderson graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in 2017. He moved north to attend the University of Florida where he was a standout cornerback for the Gators. The Jaguars selected him No. 9 overall with their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the second-highest drafted defensive back in franchise history.
Now the defensive back is setting up others for success and helping them prepare for the future, while taking care of the right now. His $250,000 donation will help to renovate Columbus’ training room into a state-of-the-art training and sports medicine center. According to Columbus, it’s presumed to be the first of its kind for any high school. It will cost in total around $500,000.
The 2,000 square foot area—which is expected to be completed by August of this year—will house Henderson’s name, being called “The Henderson Family Training Center.” It will focus on evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation. Whirlpools for hydrotherapy, massage chairs, and training tables for a variety of therapeutic modalities, as well as for nutrition and storage spaces, will all be available to Columbus athletes. It’s estimated approximately 1,000 athletes visit the training center at Columbus any given year.
“Our current facility will be completely remodeled and designed so that it empowers our students to heal, achieve, and excel in athletic performance,” said Columbus President Thomas Kruczek.
“We are so grateful to CJ and the entire Henderson family for this generous gift. The Henderson name on this facility will serve as an inspiration to all Columbus Explorers.”
Stated Columbus’ Head Athletic Trainer Herb Baker, “I am very proud of CJ for all his accomplishments on and off the field. As a Marist school, we encourage our young men to not only be good students but also good Christians and good citizens...to use their gifts and talents to make a difference in our world, and CJ is doing just that.”
Henderson started from his first snap as a rookie, intercepting Philip Rivers and making a crucial fourth down stop in his first game to help the Jaguars get a win over the Indianapolis Colts. The first rounder played in eight games for the Jags, accumulating 36 tackles, six passes defended, an interception and forcing a fumble versus the Green Bay Packers in Week 10. He was placed on Injured Reserve with a groin injury on November 19, 2020 and didn’t return the remainder of the season.
Head Coach Urban Meyer revealed in mid-March that Henderson had undergone labrum surgery and was doing “very well.” After the Jaguars drafted Georgia Bulldogs corner Tyson Campbell in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Meyer reiterated the plan is for Henderson to be a contributor at outside corner this upcoming season. The Jaguars are expected to begin offseason OTA workouts on May 24.
Until then, Henderson will continue his offseason work, changing his own life and that of those around him.
“My brother and I will never forget our experiences at Columbus; the faculty and coaching staff really go above and beyond to help their students succeed,” said Henderson of his donation. “This gift is a way for me to give back to the school who helped me so much. It feels good to know that I will play a part in helping future student-athletes at Columbus.”