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The Seantrel Sweepstakes - USC's turn for a visit

There has plenty of activity in the past couple of weeks.  Lot's of activity while nothing is really any clearer.  After winning the state championship, Henderson is now in the mode of collecting individual awards.  Some are nominations to bigger awards and some are just a formality.  He has been named a finalist for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Player of the Year award.  Former winners of this award include Tim Tebow, Adriane Peterson and Reggie Bush.  This is one of those awards where it truly is an honor just to be nominated.  Not surprisingly Henderson won the AP Player of the Year award for the state of Minnesota.  This was expected, but worth noting.

With the season over and the trophy case filling up, the next order of business is to determine his next football home.  Let's go team-by-team and get to the stories and my intuition on the subject.  Below are his final eight plus Michigan.

Ohio State - Recently video surfaced, form Seantrel's visit to Ohio State.  This is certainly worth the watch as it includes Chris Carter talking with him on the sidelines and the sit-down with Tressel in his office.  Tressel joked about the Henderson's getting a free sneak-peak at USC.

"You got a little sneak-peak at USC here.  That's not fair.  They got an advantage." 

I highly recommend watching the 4 min video.

Not much else new to report other than Shooter reported that Tressel was expected for an in-home visit on Wednesday.  On a totally unrelated and only mildly interesting note, Tressel's daughter is attending grad school at Hamline.  Upon hearing that Gopher's OL coahc, Tim Davis enrolled his son at CDH; I'm sure Tressel sent his daughter to Hamline and had her start tutoring CDH players.  It is unsubstantiated but I believe that Pete Carrol had

USC - The odds on favorite is finally getting their official Seantrel visit.  They've had a couple unofficial-unofficial visits as Seantrel took official visits to Notre Dame and Ohio State when they hosted the Trojans.  Not a lot of info on USC, but expect more next week.

Iowa - this is the surprise new-comer to the Seantrel Sweepstakes.  Iowa received an unofficial visit for the Gopher game.  Who knows how serious this visit is, maybe they are just doing their due diligence.  OR maybe Ferentz has convinced the Henderson's that he's the one player missing to take them to a BCS game next year.  Who knows, all I know is that I might cry if he goes to the Hawkeyes.  I can understand leaving for USC, Florida, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State; but Iowa?  No doubt they are much more successful than the Gophers in recent years but it's not like they are perennial anything except a good second tier B10 team.  I digress.

Michigan - is apparently out of the running.  He did not make the unofficial list of final eight teams.  I'm not all that surprised.   A couple months ago there was a lot of buzz surrounding Henderson to the Wolverines but it never seemed right to me.  I believe it was buzz coming more from Michigan (not necessarily the school but fan sites, recruiting services, maybe the team, who knows) than it was from the Henderson camp.  That's just a hunch but I never really got the impression Michigan was a contender, especially with the last place Big Ten finish.

Notre Dame - this is the interesting team to watch.  For much of the process I got the feeling Notre Dame was pushed on Seantrel by his high school staff and maybe his family.  Now with Weis being fired Notre Dame could fall off the map OR surge to the front of the pack.  Say Brian Kelly gets hired, I would expect Seantrel will move on without considering Notre Dame simply because he has no relationship with Coach Kelly.  But let's say Bob Stoops gets hired.  Stoops has already been working on Seantrel pretty hard and seems to have made some headway.  Put Stoops in South Bend and I think Notre Dame becomes a serious threat to land SH.  Just for fun here is a long-winded take on the coaching decision Notre Dame has to make.

Oklahoma - I think they are the quiet major player.  OU has not yet had Henderson on campus for an official, but it is expected that he will still be taking one.  Stoops was expected for an in-home this week as well.  Assuming Stoops remains with the Sooners I'm starting to believe they have a shot still.

Florida - An official visit is still expected but will have to happen after the season.  There really isn't much buzz around Florida and I've never really believed they were a favorite.  If it comes down to winning, maybe he chooses the Gators who by the time signing day rolls around could be working towards their third consecutive BCS Title.

Miami - listed by Henderson's father, Mr. Henderson, as one of the final eight schools still. 

"Our five was our five for a reason," Henderson's father Sean said. "We had our five plus the Gophers, Miami and Iowa, so with that, everybody is always still a consideration.

I don't believe for a second that they will finish higher than eighth in the sweepstakes, and if all other schools pulled their scholarship except Michigan and Miami; my money would be on Michigan.

Minnesota - Finally we get to the Gophers.  Brewster was the first to offer Seantrel and the first to take his in-home visit this week.

"Minnesota's our home school," Sean said. "Coach Brewster has been following Seantrel since he was a freshman and actually was the first coach to offer him a scholarship. So we'll always have a lot of respect for coach Brewster and the Gophers' program."

The elder Henderson said Brewster emphasized the importance of staying home during the 2 1/2-hour meeting at the Hendersons' south Minneapolis home.

"He said that everything's here for Seantrel and how big and important it would be to the people of Minnesota if he stayed home," Sean said. "He said that the Gophers are building something now and they wanted him with them to win a Big Ten title and possibly a national championship in the next few years."

Much of the Gopher's chances have always and continue to hinge on winning.  Fortunately for the Gophers all other suitors (Florida is the exception) fell short of their preseason expectations.  Ohio St won the conference but once again lost to USC.  USC was unable to win the Pac-10.  OU fell from a surefire top 5 team to nearly out of the polls altogether.  Notre Dame got their coach fired.  Michigan finished last in the Big Ten.  The Gophers finishing .500 and basically meeting expectations isn't nearly as nice as an 8-4 or 7-5 finish but at least nobody else is in the BCS hunt. 

Henderson's high school coach, Mike Scanlan had this to say about whether or not the Gophers have a shot at the stud tackle.

Q  Seantrel Henderson, a top national recruit, made big plays on both sides of the ball Friday. Locally, the million-dollar question is whether the Gophers have a shot at him. What do you think?

A  Yes. I truly do. He's not brought me up to speed in terms of thoughts on a frontrunner, but I think they have as good a chance as anybody right now.

I still think we are quietly in the running as a serious contender pending results of our bowl game.  Another embarrassing loss or lack of competitiveness would not help our cause.  But a win would at least keep us moving in the right direction.  There are some easy sells for Brewster here.  It can't be too hard to sell that we were a stud offensive lineman away from winning a couple more games.  Henderson will be a major haul for whoever he signs with, but at Minnesota he immediately moves into Joe Mauer stardom status.  The one thing Minnesota is missing is that air of a team on the cusp of competing for a Big Ten title.

The completely unofficial and arbitrary leaderboard
  1. USC - I'm starting to feel less confident in the Trojans but it is hard to not consider them the favorite. 
  2. Bob Stoops / Minnesota - I think if USC falls out of the running it will be a virtual tie between the the Gophers and wherever Bob Stoops is coaching next year.  If he ends up at Notre Dame they are #2 and if he stays at OU I think the Gophers have the slight edge.  
  3. Ohio State - This could look silly later, but remember that this is a total guess.
  4. Florida - I just don't see it, but the hardware they are bringing in would be hard to ignore.
  5. Iowa - please God, no!
  6. Michigan - not likely, I still believe Rich Rod will make a very strong last minute push.
  7. Miami - not likely
The Map...updates

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Hard to wait till February before we know the final destination of Minnesota's most sought after recruit since Joe Mauer.