Seantrel Henderson came to the Miami Hurricanes as one of the most celebrated and heavily recruited offensive tackles. In Sunday's game against Georgia Tech, Henderson sat out the game -- yet again -- for unspecified team rules violations, and it looked like the Canes hardly missed him.
His college career has been cursed by both cosmically bad luck and habitually bad behavior. Now in his senior year, Henderson has had one of the saddest football careers in UM history.
Henderson's accolades in high school were unparalleled for an offensive tackle. The Saint Paul-bred player was named USA Today's offensive high school player of the year, the first in that position to ever do so. Scout ranked him the best player of the class of 2010. Rivals ranked him second. And the AP named him Minnesota player of the year.
Sports Illustrated called him "probably the most polished lineman of the past decade."
"Henderson has offers from almost every college in the country," Rivals wrote. "And once he starts year-round focus on football, he should develop into a first-round draft pick."
How he came to end up in Coral Gables over almost every college campus in the nation was a mini-miracle. On National Signing Day, Henderson verbally committed to USC but initially refused to sign a letter of intent until the NCAA handed down its ruling on the Reggie Bush scandal. He did end up signing, but once NCAA sanctions came down on the Trojans, Henderson decided to just simply not show up at the school. The Trojans' Lane Kiffin had to get on a plane and fly to Minnesota to figure out what was going on. Eventually, the school agreed to let him out of his LOI, and days later he committed to the Canes.
Of course, by the end of Henderson's first season, Randy Shannon, the coach who had recruited him, had been fired, and then, just a year after he ditched USC because of its NCAA scandal, a seemingly worse scandal engulfed the Hurricanes.
Then, in July 2012, Henderson's childhood best friend was shot to death. Six days later, his aunt died of cancer.
Sure, that's some tragically bad luck (and an off-season back surgery in 2011 that limited his playing time in 2011 only added to it), but Henderson certainly hasn't helped himself since he's been here. He's now been suspended at least three times:
- Henderson was first suspended at the beginning of 2011 for violating team rules.
- He was suspended for a week of spring practice in 2012 for unspecified reasons.
- Just before the beginning of the 2012 season, he ran a red light and crashed into a car carrying six passengers. Two children in the car had to be taken to the hospital as a precaution. Henderson himself suffered a concussion and missed 12 practices. In this case, he was disciplined only with traffic citations.
- Then, just a half-hour before Saturday's game, the team announced he had been suspended once again for violating team rules. He will be back for the next game.
Al Golden is not amused. From the Palm Beach Post:
"Here's what I'll say: Seantrel's a grown man," Golden said. "He's not a freshman or sophomore. He doesn't need protection from a coach or an athletic director. I'm going to let Seantrel speak for Seantrel.
"I'm not going to answer these questions for Seantrel anymore. He needs to address it the next time we're available to the media."
Miami is on a bye this week; media availability is not scheduled until next Sunday.
"I'm going to let you guys ask him the questions and let him address that," Golden said. "I think it's important that he stands up and takes responsibility. I'll let him communicate to you guys."
And perhaps all of this would seem more dramatic if Henderson actually lived up to the buzz. He managed an honorable mention on last year's all-ACC team, but he hasn't exactly been the dominant player who proved why every team was after him. When you Google his name, one of the suggested completions is "Seantrel Henderson bust." His shear size and physicality will still likely land him in the NFL, but that first-round spot he once seemed destined for is in question.
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