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The Seantrel Henderson Sweepstakes - is Minnesota fading?

The high school football season is winding down for the nation's number one recruit.  Henderson's Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders finished the regular season 7-1and are waiting to find out their first round opponent.  The Raiders are currently ranked 5th in state and their lone loss came to the #3 Stillwater Ponies.  CDH is typically a very strong program so their #5 state ranking and 7-1 regular season record is no surprise to anyone familiar with Minnesota prep sports.  So rather than dwell on Seantrel's current team we want to focus on Seantrel's future team.

There have been two rather significant developments in the courting of Seanrel Henderson. 

The first may or may not be significant (OK, it probably won't be significant at all).  JD Pride, friend of Seantrel and at one time rumored to be desiring the same school, has committed to the only Division I school to have offered him a scholarship.  Pride has verbally committed to Minnesota.  Now like I said this may or may not be significant and it probably will fall into the insignificant column, but it is certainly worth mentioning.  I do believe that this is A factor for Seantrel, but I'm willing to speculate that this does not rank in his top 5 most important things to consider when picking a college.  Ultimately if this becomes a deal-breaker I have no doubt that USC, Notre Dame, Ohio St or whoever will give Pride a scholarship.

What was actually significant was Seantrel's official visit this past weekend to Notre Dame to watch the Irish lose to USC.  Seantrel was one of 18 official visitors for last weekend's massive tilt with the Trojans.  Rival's Mike Farrell talked about Seantrel's visit and there he has some very interesting assumptions...

Let's start with the five-star prospects. The nation's No. 1 player, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall, enjoyed his visit and sources say Notre Dame now is in the top three along with Ohio State and USC. Minnesota has faded in a big way, Florida and Oklahoma are long shots and distance could be a factor with USC. This could come down to a two-team battle between the Irish and Buckeyes. But Henderson still has visits left with USC and others.

It has felt to me (this is pure speculation) like the Notre Dame visit was done as a courtesy.  Many CDH kids end up playing for the Irish and I'm sure his coaches encouraged him to at least check it out.  But I've also felt all along that the Irish were going to finish 4th or 5th in the Seantrel Sweepstakes, I'm sure at least for now they are looked at favorably after the big weekend.  I have been to a few games in South Bend including a USC game (the Bush-Push game), it is an incredible experience.  The Bush-Push game was witnessed by another Minnesota kid who loved the experience enough to choose the Irish.  Matt Carufel eventually transferred out of South Bend and back to Minnesota but the Notre Dame experience was too much to pass up at the time.  If my assumption that the Irish were sitting 3rd or worse prior to the weekend was correct there is a good chance they have moved up the list at least for now.

For Minnesota fans the concerning part of Farrell's quote is that Minnesota appears to be fading fast.  I have also felt all along that the Gophers would need to win and do something significant to land Henderson and to date they have failed miserably to do so.  I wince at the assumption that these kids pick their school based on team A beating team B, I would hope decisions are not arrived at that carelessly.  But it might take a win over Ohio State to get Seantrel's attention again and put the Gophers back into the mix with Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame.

There are rumors that Seantrel will take a visit this weekend to Michigan.  It is unclear if this will actually happen or not and it is unclear if this will be an official or not.  I do think Michigan ranks ahead of Oklahoma and Florida at this point and I fully expect Rich Rod will put on a full court press up until signing day.  Watch for Michigan to get all kinds of rumors leading up to signing day, but in the end I think the team with the most talk around is the team that will lose the sweepstakes.

The completely unofficial and arbitrary leaderboard
  1. USC - no reason to think they are not the program to beat.  Farrell thinks distance might be an issue, but Southern Cal will look really good when Henderson visits next month.
  2. Ohio State - I wonder how the bad loss to Purdue and the recent ordinary-ness of Pryor looks to Seanrel.  Again, I hope he puts more thought into this decision than losing to Purdue but who knows.
  3. Notre Dame - the buzz from the official visit may wear off, especially if the Irish struggle and rumors of Charlie's demise begin swirling.  Go BC!
  4. Minnesota - it has been a few weeks of ho-hum-ness out of Minnesota.  They need a spark or something to grab Seantrel's attention.
  5. Michigan - the Wolverine hype machine links Seantrel and Michigan almost daily but he is playing everything so close to the vest that all of the Michigan rumors feel like they are trumped up.
  6. Oklahoma / Florida - I still don't feel like they are serious contenders and if Michigan gets an official visit this weekend he'll have to drop one of these from his visit list.
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