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The Seantrel Henderson Sweepstakes - coming to a close

When Seantrel sticks his head up out of his recruiting hole, will he see a Gopher for his shadow?

It is a very rare thing for the state of Minnesota to lay claim to the nation's #1 prep football player. Having a player of his caliber in our own back yard is kind of fun and what has added to enjoyment is the intrigue and mystery surrounding Henderson's final college destination. There are apparently 6 schools still in the hunt. Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame, Florida, Miami and the hometown University of Minnesota. Each of the schools listed has been "rumored" to be a silent commitment or the current "school to beat." He even had Michigan and Iowa fans believing they were in (or near) the driver's seat for the nation's top offensive tackle.

  • Ohio State -the current favorite according to internet rumors. ESPN Scout's Inc also projects Henderson to the OSU. This one makes the most sense based on what many perceive to be the factors that matter the most to Seantrel. Ohio State is still in the Midwest, it is a quality school academically, they are in the hunt for BCS games every year, they turn out NFL talent every year and they have a stable coaching staff expected to be there throughout Henderson's time there. It makes sense and most would believe they are the favorites.
  • Notre Dame - is always listed as Henderson's supposed top-3. The Irish have cornered the market on Cretin-Derham Hall kids and SH is also friends with current Irish wide receiver, Michael Floyd; which may or may not affect his decision. While nobody is predicting Notre Dame (this week), nobody would be surprised if this is where he lands. Also worth noting, Tom Lemming is often accused of being a Notre Dame lackey who pushes kids to sign with the Irish. This accusation may or may not be fair but it is out there and Henderson is going to announce his decision on Lemming's signing day show.
  • USC - Bill Kurelic believes USC has the slight advantage, but he's guessing like everyone else. I was convinced throughout this process that USC was the favorite but that was before Pete Carrol left for the NFL. Now Henderson has to establish a new relationship in a short amount of time with the Kiffin staff. What the Kiffin staff has in their favor is a rock-star staff. Given another month to woo him, I would imagine USC would put themselves back in the driver's seat but I'm not sure where they stand as of Feb-3, 2010.
  • Florida - nothing has been rumored here for a few weeks. Not that they are out of the running but nobody is "predicting" the Gators (this week). In fact due to the lack of any news surrounding Florida, JG thinks this will be the Henderson school of choice. The "no-news is good-news" theory is what Gator fans are hoping for.
  • Miami - The Henderson's just returned from Miami which was their final official visit. I'm not convinced they are in the realistic list of schools to land his services, but you never know. "It's definitely an advantage for Miami that this is my last visit," Henderson said. "I just want to see what the campus is about and see how I relate with the players and coaches." Who wouldn't take a free trip to Miami, in January, during the week of the Pro Bowl. Henderson could be the next Bryant McKinnie, hopefully with a better attitude.
  • Minnesota - no actual rumors of committing here but the message boards will occasionally have the poster who has a friend who knows Henderson's uncle who told him that Henderson loves Brewster and wants to be a Gopher. Actually I think he is Joe Mauer's cousin and the two of them are going to sign with the Gophers at the same time (Mauer has eligibility left doesn't he?) and they are going to lead the Gophers to the Super Bowl (or something). Seriously though the Gophers have made a strong pitch to Henderson. One can make the argument as to why he should stay here but the reality is that he's very likely to go to a place where he'll have a chance to play in a BCS bowl. Miami was the final official visit, but the Gophers were the last ones to spend time with Henderson as they hosted him at TCF Bank Stadium Sunday night.

There is so much speculation and the Henderson circle of trust has kept their intentions incredibly tight-lipped. The elder Henderson, Sean has been willing to talk to whoever asks but he has never indicated where Seantrel will end up. Bucknuts questions the integrity of Sean Henderson (if he chooses to sign with USC or Notre Dame), based on the numerous comments in the past about coaching stability being a major factor.

There have been a couple local interviews in recent days and here are a couple highlights.

Bob Sansavere interview - this talks a lot about what it is like to be the father of the #1 recruit in the country and the influence he's had in Seantrel's decision. There is more in the link, but these were some of the highlights.

BS: Has Seantrel made his decision about a college, and is he just holding off announcing it?

SH: No, he hasn't made a decision. I can honestly say, 100 percent, he hasn't made a decision yet.

BS: Has Seantrel made his decision about a college, and is he just holding off announcing it?

SH: No, he hasn't made a decision. I can honestly say, 100 percent, he hasn't made a decision yet.

BS: Is the University of Minnesota still very much in the running?

SH: We were just with the Gophers last (Sunday) night. We were at TCF Bank Stadium until 11 p.m. A lot of people think we may be leaving because of the weather here. Seantrel is making his decision based on relationships and comfortability with players and coaches.

BS: So, will you be moving with Seantrel if he leaves Minnesota?

SH: Definitely, 100 percent, if he chooses to do that (and attend a school other than Minnesota).

BS: There's a rumor out there that Snoop Dogg has told you that if Seantrel goes to Southern Cal, he would help you launch your rap career. Any truth to that?

SH: Emphatically, no. I've never met Snoop. I've never ever, ever comprised anything so that what I'm doing with my life has anything to do with Seantrel. I've never initiated a conversation about music into Seantrel's career at all. My career and music, and Seantrel's career never have been discussed. Three schools said, "You rap." They brought it up at the University of Florida. It came up this weekend at the University of Miami. They said they heard, "Blah, blah, blah." My mother saw it on the Ohio State Buckeyes' (Web) site. I don't know where it's coming from. I never talked to Snoop ever in my life. Nobody talked music and my situation. I've heard people say, "Oh, there are great studios here." I told Seantrel how uncomfortable that makes me. I'm not interested in combining my music with Seantrel's career. He has a tough decision. I'm just doing whatever a dad would do. I think people — because they're so concerned with (his decision) and there's so much emotion in where Seantrel is going — they want to find different variables of why he'd go here, or why he'd go there. In case he doesn't pick their school, they can say, "Oh, it's his dad." Or, "It's his mom and dad." It's his decision 100,000 percent. We don't want to cloud his decision-making process.

GopherHole interview- this much more Gopher-centric. Again, there is more in the link if you want to read more, click there.

GH: Will he tell the coach that he's going to be committing to before he announces it publicly?
SH: No, we'll be doing it on TV.

GH: How was your visit to the University of Minnesota last night?
SH: It went well, we had a nice time. We spent time with Coach Brewster and the rest of the coaches. We got back from Miami at about 3:30p.m. and went over there about 7pm. I specifically told them that we wanted to come and meet with them last out of all of the schools because that was the only right way to do it. They were first out of all of our visits, and we wanted them to be last as well.

GH: I heard they put on a special evening for Seantrel, what did that entail?
SH: Not anything special, they just got us together, and we watched the Pro Bowl and he played video games. It was just good for everybody to be there and come by, they brought their wives and a couple of them brought their kids so they made it real comfortable.

GH: Did they make a huge cut-out of Seantrel?
SH: They had a cutout of Seantrel in a Gophers' uniform, and stuff like that. It was nice. They're recruiting and that's what they do.

GH: Was that the first time Seantrel was able to meet the Gopher's new Offensive Coordinator, Jeff Horton?
SH: No, we met him the Saturday before at the Michigan State/Gophers basketball game.

GH: What are your thoughts on him?
SH: He was okay.

GH: There have been a lot of rumors as to what happened with Seantrel's Iowa offer, when did you eliminate them?
SH: Iowa eliminated themselves when they found out that they couldn't be our 5th official visit. I thought that was a poor choice on their part, but it just makes it a little easier on us.

GH: Even though he went down there for an unofficial visit?
SH: He went their twice, so I really don't get why they needed us to have a "official visit." The only difference is basically that they'd be paying for us to stay in the hotel, other than that, I think they're too concerned with how people will view them in the media, and maybe what they read in the paper and on websites. I think it was more about that, if it's not known that we weren't going to take an official visit there, then it didn't pull as much weight. I don't know - I would think that if Seantrel had taken his own particular interest to go down there twice on his own, they would be able to see that he was somewhat serious.

The Case for Minnesota - we are a Gopher blog, we are pretty well convinced that Henderson will go somewhere else for his college football career, but I do believe we are in the running. Clearly the University of Minnesota is not at the competitive level of the other schools on Henderson's list. We are a middle of the pack Big Ten team that hasn't accomplished anything significant in decades. The case for Henderson staying in Minnesota is that he could be the catalyst to change that. It comes down to how badly (if at all) he wants to be known as a legend. The state of Minnesota is very provincial and LOVES their local athletes. Were Henderson to stay here and were the Gophers to make a Rose Bowl (or even a top 3 finish in the Big Ten), he becomes a legend. Those of you reading who do not live here, this is no exaggeration. He would go down as an instant Gopher Great. He would go on to an NFL career and be able to move back here and do whatever he wants in the business community.

Even before he plays a snap at the college level he instantly becomes one of the three most recognizable names in a very crowded local sports arena. Joe Mauer, Adrian Peterson and Seantrel Henderson would arguably be the three biggest sports names in town. This is really the only angle and legit reason a player of his caliber would (or should) choose to be a Gopher. Instant Joe Mauer status if he is a Gopher. At USC, Ohio State or Notre Dame he is still a great player who would be vital to their teams' success. But he is not the only 5-star recruit on the roster and not the only 5-star recruit in this 2010 recruiting class.

This point was only solidified to me this morning. I get in my car ready for a long commute through the snow. WCCO is the station playing when I start the car. What are they talking about? Seantrel Henderson and what he would mean to the Gophers. I only catch about 10 seconds of the conversation before commercial. So I switch over KFAN. Guess what? They are talking about Seantrel Henderson and the impact he would have on the Gopher program. Literally within 2 minutes I hear him being talked about on two major radio programs on the AM dial.

No offense to the rest of the 2010 class. I am really excited about Jimmy Gjere and Lamonte Edwards, but I am certain the KFAN morning show knows very little about these kids (if they've even heard of them). Sid Hartman probably knows we are signing a big kid from Irondale but I guarantee he doesn't know his first name. But everyone knows about Seantrel Henderson. When I say instant "rock-star status" I mean it.

There are a lot of IF's surrounding the case for Minnesota. Primarily Henderson goes down as a legend "IF" the Gophers start winning while he is here. But convincing the #1 player in the country helps in recruiting, especially around the state. For the other schools Henderson brings a great skill set that will help them a lot along the offensive line. For Minnesota he would be more than that. He would be a cornerstone and a reason for other great athletes to commit to Minnesota. This would easily the biggest success Brewster has had as a head coach at Minnesota.

I'll reiterate that none of us here believe Henderson will choose Minnesota. But drinks are on me tomorrow (figuratively, not literally. SBN doesn't pay well enough) if Henderson gives the biggest shocker of the year tomorrow by putting on a Gopher hat on national signing day.

TDG Predictions

1 Florida 1 Ohio State 1 Ohio State
2 Miami 2 Notre Dame 2 Minnesota
4 Minnesota 4 Minnesota 4 Notre Dame
5 Ohio State 5 Miami 5 Florida