Remember the Seantrel Henderson recruiting melodrama this past February? For those who don't, the future left tackle was considered by almost anyone and everyone as the top prospect in the 2010 recruiting class. With his nimble feet and natural athleticism fused with a massive 6'8, 335 pound frame, Henderson was heavily recruited to play both football and basketball. And coming out of Minnesota, naturally, he didn't want to stay home and sign with the in-state Golden Golphers (obvious reasons).
After flirting with all of the traditional powers that you would expect an elite recruit to be interested in, Henderson set his sights on USC. Of course, though, like any rational-minded recruit, he was concerned with the specter of sanctions resulting from the Reggie Bush scandal. As a result, Henderson only gave a verbal commitment to USC on National Signing Day and chose to delay his actual signing until a later date when he would have a better understanding of any possible sanctions. His father minced no words at the time: if the Trojans were hit hard by the NCAA, all bets would be off the table.
About six weeks after National Signing Day, and after a great deal of convincing by Lane Kiffin and company that the NCAA was not going to touch the Trojan football program, Henderson finally signed his letter of intent. And, um, yeah, that whole sanctions thing didn't exactly go well for USC. And big shock, Henderson isn't happy. From the Pioneer Press:
When heralded football signee Seantrel Henderson from Cretin-Derham Hall didn't show up as scheduled last week for orientation at the University of Southern California, new coach Lane Kiffin, recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, offensive line coach James Cregg and top assistant Monte Kiffin took a private jet to the Twin Cities on Monday to make sure the 6-foot-8, 330-pound left tackle still was committed.
Reached Tuesday, Henderson's father, Sean, had no comment, and Seantrel, who some day could be a first-round NFL draft pick, did not return phone messages.
Not surprisingly, Henderson seems to reneging on his letter of intent. But, of course, it probably doesn't matter what he thinks at this point. His signature has already dried on the dotted line, and there is no way USC would ever even consider releasing him from his scholarship. As a result, the only way he can get out of spending the next three years in LA is to be willing to transfer somewhere and sit out, an almost unthinkable course of action for someone who is obviously on the three-year fast-track to the NFL and someone who expected to start this Fall as a true freshman. For better or for worse, Henderson said he wanted to be a Trojan and now he is going to get that wish.
The point that should be made here isn't, however, isn't about Henderson. The real point here is, for lack of a more concise way of putting it, is regarding bullshit on the recruiting trails.
Everyone who approached the Reggie Bush scandal with even a modicum of rational thought -- and by that I specifically mean those who didn't think the NCAA was just an anti-'Bama organization, those who weren't USC homers, and those who thought the NCAA was just an institutionalized conspiracy designed to let big-time programs get away with murder -- could see from a mile away that very harsh sanctions were coming. Seantrel Henderson, too, should have realized that long ago and just stayed away from USC entirely. Instead, he effectively drank the cardinal Kool-Aid by the gallon and bought into everything Lane Kiffin said hook, line, and sinker.
And in all fairness to him, it's not just Henderson, it's business as usual on the recruiting trails. You see it every year, recruits making decisions based on things that they are told that are in fact -- in any real, objective sense -- complete and total nonsense. In any individual case the blather varies... in some cases it is promises for immediate playing time, in others it is to play a particular position, in others it is much convincing to ignore the small army of players already at a particular position, and it can even extend to off-field concerns with nebulous concepts of "family." And it's all nonsense.
The point, though, that none of has to make any real sense, it just has to be able to convince a few otherwise gullible 17-year old kids, and that happens all the time. And you don't even have to convince them for long, either, just long enough to get their signature on the dotted line. Henderson is just the latest, most high profile example of this reality. Rest assured he will not be the last.