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By ASHLEY SCOBY
For the rest of the football offseason, I’m going to be doing some previews here on Vaughtsviews.com for the UK football season – incoming players, position battles, etc. Want to learn more about a particular signee or want a preview of the long snappers next year? Shoot me an email with any ideas/suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @AshleyScoby. Until then…
I am excited for Khalid Henderson. I’m excited about all the Kentucky recruits, but perhaps none more so than Henderson.
Maybe it’s because I’m a defense-first football fan, and Henderson is a linebacker. Maybe it’s because he’s been compared to Danny Trevathan by several football writers. And maybe it’s because he backed out of coming to Tennessee in favor of the Cats. Either way, you have a few reasons to be excited about this guy too:
The recruitment numbers: Rated as a 4-star player, Henderson was the No. 17 overall recruit in his home state of Georgia. Not to mention ESPN ranked him as the No. 19 outside linebacker in the country. He was also ranked as a three-star by 24/7 Sports, Scout.com and Rivals.com
The production numbers: During his senior year, Henderson came up with 74 tackles and snagged two interceptions. He also runs a 4.57 40-yard dash – that’s some serious speed to have on the defensive side of the ball. On the field, he can fly, and those instincts will take him far in his role as a linebacker.
Fitting in with the system: A guy who can fly around like Henderson is perfect for Rick Minter’s defensive scheme, which emphasizes speed, as well as guys who can both tackle and drop back in coverage. The 6’1, 200-pound Henderson fits the bill tremendously. He’s a bona fide linebacker – no doubt about that – but with his speed, Henderson will be able to fit into Minter’s system.
Potential for early production: While Henderson will have to learn Minter’s scheme just like any offensive player has to learn the playbook heading into camp, look for the linebacker to produce early. With Trevathan graduating last year, there is an enormous spot on the field to fill. Maybe it won’t be Henderson this year, but it will be one day. Look for Henderson to see the field early on in his career – if not at linebacker, at least on special teams. That 4.57 time and the ability to hit is how many players get their starts in the SEC.
The hype: Besides possibly Patrick Towles, Henderson may be the most hyped up player in this year’s recruiting class. Obviously, with Towles being a quarterback and being from Kentucky, he’s going to overshadow anyone else. But Henderson might have been the most talked about guy in Lexington on National Signing Day, and rightfully so. The original Tennessee commit opened his recruitment back up, and ended up faxing Joker his letter of intent the morning of Signing Day. Talk about recruitment drama. Had that been a run-of-the-mill one- or two-star lineman, would Kentucky fans have been so excited about it? Probably not.
But a four-star linebacker who had pictures circulating on the Internet of himself in a Danny Trevathan jersey?
Yeah, that’s something to get hyped up about.