Commentary

Henderson still weighing his options

Five-star OT deciding between Ohio State, Minnesota, ND, Florida, USC and Miami

Originally Published: January 7, 2010
By Gerry Hamilton | Scouts Inc.

SAN ANTONIO -- The top offensive line prospect in the 2010 class is nearing the end of a long journey. A process that began more than a year ago with offers from around the country has seemingly come down to six programs for Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall).

[+] EnlargeHenderson Seantrel
Tim Casey/GatorCountry.comMany expect five-star OT Seantrel Henderson to stay in the midwest, but Florida, Miami and USC are still very much in the mix.
The No. 4 prospect in the ESPNU 150 began the official visit process in September tripping to Ohio State. The visit to Columbus was followed by a trip to Notre Dame October 16, a month without a visit and then in December trips to USC on the 4th and Florida on the 18th.

One lone trip remains for the mammoth 6-foot-8, 340-pound left tackle, to Coral Gables to check out the Miami Hurricanes.Much has been made of Henderson's similarity in size and ability to former Hurricane and current NFL tackle Bryant McKinnie, so maybe it's not surprising the Canes are in the mix.

"They're definitely in it. I'm taking my visit there on the 29th," Henderson said

Throughout the process, many have predicted that Henderson will stay in the Midwest when it's all said and done. Ohio State, Notre Dame and hometown Minnesota are still solidly in contention, with the Buckeyes and Irish making arguably the bigger early impressions.

"I like all their facilities at Ohio State and I like the city. It's real similar to Minneapolis; it has a real Midwestern type feel," Henderson said. "I like the people out there and the coaches."

"There has been a lot as far as coaching and changes in the program at Notre Dame, but they are still in it. (Former teammate Michael) Floyd wants me to come down there and help the team out. We're real tight. Even back when I was a freshman and he was a junior or whatever, we played basketball and football together, so we're real tight."

The wild card in the chase for the ultra talented lineman is the Florida Gators. Henderson said he hasn't had the chance to talk with head coach Urban Meyer since the news first broke about him stepping down before he ultimately decided to take a leave of absence.

"I haven't heard from Urban ever since he resigned or whatever," he said. "I have been talking to Coach (McCarney) the defensive line coach, he's the one who recruits me. Florida is still in there."

The USC Trojans also remain in the hunt after a successful visit to the bright light of Los Angeles December 4.

"I like USC, they are near the top. I mean, it's a good school. I liked it out there. It was my first time in L.A.," said Henderson with a smile.

Every top prospect has to have a person in their corner to lean on at times in what can be an overwhelming process. Luckily for Henderson, he doesn't have to take more than a step or two to get support from his father, Sean Henderson.

"Anytime coaches call, my Dad talks to all of them," he said. "He pretty much acts as my manager. It's great having him there for me."

Henderson hasn't given a firm date for when he'll announce his decision, but it looks like it will go right down to signing day.

McCartney just looking for a home
Wide receiver Ivan McCartney (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) remains one of the top prospects in the Sunshine State still on the board. The 6-2, 175-pound fluid, sure-handed pass catcher has been rumored to be leaning to West Virginia by some and Florida by others, but remains open due in large part to the fact he just wants to sit back and take inventory of all the coaching changes.

[+] EnlargeMcCartneyIvan
Tim Casey/GatorCountry.comFour-star WR Ivan McCartney says he is just looking for a place that feels like home.
"I considering everybody really," McCartney said. "I'm wide open. Coaches are starting to leave places, so I'm keeping it wide open right now. I have one visit scheduled to Miami on Super Bowl weekend and I have one left after that. I'll sit down with my coach and decide where that one will be. I've already been to Oregon, West Virginia and the University of Florida."

North Carolina and Ole Miss are the front-runners for McCartney's final visit. The thing is, though, each visit a prospect takes has a different feel. Some are just special and it's immediately known. Two of the the four-star prospects visits have provided that feel.

"The Florida and West Virginia trips made me feel like home. The Florida trip I felt more at home, I guess because it was in state, but I felt right at home with Florida," McCartney said. "I liked Oregon a lot though. The facilities were great and the coaches made me feel comfortable. The distance really isn't a factor to me, but I felt more at home at West Virginia and Florida."

For West Virginia, they have former teammates in the program to go with the feeling of comfort.

"The Mountaineers have a great program, especially with Geno (Smith) being there has me looking at them harder. I like West Virginia a lot. I felt like home at West Virginia," McCartney said.

When the smoke clears and the No. 114 prospect in the ESPNU 150 sits down to make a final decision, he'll lean on his head coach Damon Cogdell.

"It will be me and my head coach," he said. "I really have no clue what it will come down to other than feeling at home."

Confusing time for Lueders
Like every Notre Dame commit, Blake Lueders (Zionsville, Ind./Community High) seemed destined to play for the Fighting Irish. That was until the firing of head coach Charlie Weis.

[+] EnlargeLueders Blake
Tim Casey/GatorCountry.comFour-star DE/LB Blake Lueders is still committed to Notre Dame, but he might take a visit to Stanford, or accept a phone call or two from other schools.
A little over a month later, the 6-5, 250-pound linebacker/defensive end remains committed to Notre Dame, but is mulling over a January 15 visit to Palo Alto to check out Stanford.

"I haven't decided yet," Lueders said. "I'm up in the air. I've got to talk to some coaches. It's really some private stuff."

While Lueders has spoken with members of Brian Kelly's staff, including newly hired defensive line coach Mike Elston, there hasn't not been ample time to form a relationship. Further conversations and in-home visits will be key in deciding whether or not to make the trip to Stanford.

"That's part of it. There are things that have to be talked about," Lueders said.

Stanford isn't the only program in hot pursuit of the four-star prospect.

"Schools are definitely calling me, but we'll see what happens," he said. "The only schools that I listen to are Stanford, Boston College and Northwestern."

The goal for Lueders remains the same as in August when he committed to Notre Dame -- academics and relationships.

"Great academics, great football and great relationships with the coaches and players. That's what I'm looking for," Lueders said.

Under Kelly, Notre Dame will play a 3-4 defense. The Fighting Irish want Lueders at outside linebacker, while others are talking defensive end.

"It's a little bit different all over the board. Some are saying linebacker, some are saying defensive end and some are saying a hybrid," he said. "I don't have a preference. All of the above are good for me."

Lueders is No. 150 in the ESPNU 150.

Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at espngerry@yahoo.com.

ALSO SEE