University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes’ Seantrel Henderson gets fresh start for final time

 

Hurricanes offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, now a senior, vows to make the most of his last chance in college.

 
UM offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson speaks to the media at fall practice Monday, Aug. 5, 2013.
UM offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson speaks to the media at fall practice Monday, Aug. 5, 2013.
SPECIAL TO THE HERALD

sdegnan@MiamiHerald.com

Seantrel Henderson looked markedly different from past Augusts as he sat under an interview tent at University of Miami’s Greentree Field.

He looked just about as lean and fit as a 6-8 senior could look.

He looked comfortable and content.

A closely cropped haircut replaced his dreads.

And when’s the last time you remember a college offensive lineman weighing less than what the roster said?

“He’s in a good place right now,’’ UM coach Al Golden said Monday, minutes before the third day of fall camp began. “We’re starting to get all of Seantrel. In other words, a total commitment.

“… I can tell you this: we haven’t seen the best of him yet.’’

Henderson — weighing in at 332 on Monday, 13 pounds lighter than his listed weight and the leanest he has been since high school — shed the yellow “limited contact’’ jersey he wore Sunday after turning his ankle Saturday. He told reporters his foot was still a little sore.

Henderson has battled plenty since coming to UM from St. Paul, Minn., in 2010 as the reigning USA Today High School Offensive Player of the Year. Since then, he has struggled with one obstacle after another: suspensions, homesickness, back surgery, a car accident and the deaths of a family member and close friend.

In January, after realizing his draft projection had not lived up to the previous hype, Henderson announced he would remain at UM. “I do believe that I’m a potential first-rounder,’’ he said.

Few would argue that, considering the word “potential.’’

On Monday, Henderson’s demeanor and words indicated the off-field circus had packed up and left town. He is listed as a co-first-team tackle with Ereck Flowers, and said he will be working at left tackle, as well.

“I’ve had a good offseason program, me and all my teammates,’’ Henderson said. “I’m ready for the season, ready to take off. … I’ve been focusing more than ever. I matured over the years.

“…We’re going to win a bowl game this year.’’

Henderson now bench presses 24 reps of 225 pounds, and said he’s at his goal playing weight.

“I feel a little looser out there,’’ he said. “My lateral movements are better. I’m a little quicker on my feet. I can fit blocks a little better. I get off the ball a little quicker. Just the conditioning and lifting, everything has pretty much been going good for me.’’

The haircut this summer gave him the new look he wanted on the outside, and a clean, fresh feeling on the inside.

“I was getting sick of the dreads so I decided to chop it off,’’ he said.

The reaction?

“Oh, man, we had workouts the next morning at 6 and all the coaches just kind of came down one by one and were like ‘Wow, you look so much different.’

“And all my teammates were cracking on me all week. But then after that, [defensive tackle] Corey King cut his, and then [receiver] Allen Hurns cut his. I’m not going to say I started a trend or anything, but, it’s fine. I like everybody’s new look, including mine.’’

Henderson conceded that the past four years haven’t been easy.

“Sometimes I can get caught up in the process or forgetting the process or maybe forgetting the goal at the end,’’ he said. “But that’s what football will take anybody through. You have hard times, you have good times, times when you’re down, maybe injuries, maybe off the field stuff.

“Everybody’s life is different.’’

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