Seantrel Henderson was so light on his feet Tuesday after practice — almost bouncing to a group of waiting reporters — that it was hard to believe that the University of Miami offensive tackle stands 6-8 and weighs 336 pounds.
Even harder to believe, if you’re a UM football devotee, is that Henderson is still a Hurricane. Many people, including himself at times, thought he would turn pro early.
But Henderson, who will be a senior next season, has matured and endured. Now, he and coach Al Golden hope he’s on his way to a year that will be rewarding for his teammates and future.
“To be honest, I just know I don’t have too much time left for any mistakes, for any mess-ups,’’ Henderson said. “The sand is just going through the little time glass. Every day I wake up, I’ve got to do everything right, I’ve got to be everywhere on time and I’ve got to get my job done.
“… I just felt like it was the right thing to stay here and graduate and finish. I don’t like starting things and then quitting.’’
Henderson came to UM from St. Paul, Minn., in 2010 as the reigning USA Today High School Offensive Player of the Year. Since then, he has battled various situations, including a suspension, homesickness, back surgery, a car accident and the deaths of a family member and close friend.
But in January, after realizing his draft projection was not what he thought it might be, Henderson announced he would remain at UM.
“It drives me a lot,’’ Henderson said of the NFL Draft Advisory Board’s opinion that he wouldn’t be picked until after the third round. “It lets me know there are just as many other guys out there that are as good as me or better than me. So I have to work as hard or harder than them in order to be where I want to be.
“I do believe that I’m a potential first-rounder.’’
Golden said Tuesday that Henderson’s “house is in order. He’s eliminating all the things that cause distractions, that cause him to fail and really that’s the first key to success. I said, ‘Deciding you want to come back and you make this commitment is one thing, but doing is another.’
“I’m happy that he’s having success. I’m happy that his confidence is higher — and it should be. He’s just got to continue to do it everyday until it’s a habit. … We still have time to make him a great one.’’
Henderson said the physical ailments along the offensive line (concussion for guard Jonathan Feliciano, knee sprain for guard Brandon Linder and offseason shoulder surgery for center Shane McDermott) have helped the underclassmen develop this spring. For example, junior Malcolm Bunche has played tackle, guard and center.
“Not that I wish injuries on those guys,” Henderson said, “but it’s kind of what we needed. The guys who are stepping up [Ereck Flowers, Danny Isidora, Taylor Gadbois, and Hunter Wells] are doing a wonderful job.’’• On Monday, 6-6, 278-pound offensive tackle Reilly Gibbons — of St. Petersburg Catholic and a four-star recruit, according to Rivals.com — orally committed to UM.
• The Canes took a hit on the other side of the line Tuesday. Sophomore defensive end Jelani Hamilton might have injured his right knee during practice. He already was wearing a brace on that knee because of a previous injury. Golden said Hamilton will undergo an MRI.