Raise your hand if you thought the recruitment of the nation's top prep player would still be alive well into July?
Oh. I've noticed that a lot of you have your hands up. Considering the drama and suspense that led up to Seantrel Henderson's announcement for the Trojans and the subsequent delay in making things official, I shouldn't be so surprised. Let's recap the bizarre timeline:
- Feb. 3rd 5:30pm On national signing day, Henderson dons a Trojan cap live on Tom Lemming's CBS college football recruiting show and pledges his services to Lane Kiffin. When asked, Henderson said Ohio State was his second choice, but his high school coach said the tackle had informed him via text that he was headed to Miami the night before. The New York Times publishes a behind-the-scenes article in which the player's father, Sean, was quoted as saying Tressel's pitch regarding Seantrel's first year of college was "pretty long winded" and "boring".
- Feb. 3rd 11:37pm Henderson's father informs the New York Times that his son will not sign a letter of intent until after the Trojans appear before the NCAA infractions committee Feb. 19-21.
- Mar. 15th Sean Henderson replies to an inquiry from the Dispatch stating via text message: "Seantrel's ACT scores came in Friday. He is now academically eligible, and will be signing with USC this week."
- Mar. 21st After postponing Seantrel's signing because of "scheduling logistics", Sean Henderson reaffirms his son's commitment to USC: “It is USC. There’s no doubts. A hundred thousand, trillion percent, it’s U.S.C. It’s 100 percent.”
- Mar. 23rd Apparently satisfied with USC's closed-door presentations to the NCAA, Henderson finally makes it official by faxing in his letter of intent to the Trojans. The decision to sign before the NCAA reported back on USC will puzzle thinking men for days.
- June 10th Amid conference expansion chaos, the NCAA hands down their long-awaited findings on USC. The carnage is very real: The football team receives four years of probation, a two-year postseason ban, a loss of 30 scholarships over the course of three years, and other penalties. Nascent rap careers come to a screeching halt.
- June 21st After Henderson doesn't report to orientation, Lane Kiffin and three assistants flew to Minneapolis to make the sure the tackle still plans to attend USC.
- June 22nd Reached the following day, Sean Henderson had no comment on his son's status.
- June 30th The Pioneer Press reports Henderson may be balking on his USC commitment and is eyeing Miami, even if it does mean having to sit out a transfer year.
- July 1st The LA Times confirms Lane Kiffin has now made two visits to Henderson at home in Minnesota and quoted the coach as saying "Sometimes I think I know his main concern and then it seems to change the next day." Henderson has kept himself busy playing AAU basketball, while he and his father continue to avoid the press.
- July 3rd Henderson was reported to be in Miami over the holiday weekend, lending further credence to the rumor that he was looking at the Hurricanes as an exit plan.
Wow, that was exhausting.
So, where does that leave us, Buckeye fans?
I think at this time, it's safe to say Henderson will not be a Trojan. Kiffin's quotes in the LA Times article reeked of both frustration and desperation, but the one about his main concerns changing from day-to-day was very telling. If the kid (and his father) are coming up with new concerns on a daily basis, they're just looking for a reason to make you go away, Lane. As for Kiffin's continued pursuit, I can't really say I blame him, but at this point in time, is attending USC really in Seantrel's best interests?
If Henderson does enroll elsewhere, he may have a shot at getting a release from his letter of intent with USC. Though you could argue it was done in a preemptive manner to spare the football team, USC did release three freshmen from LOIs in basketball last season. Further, the Hendersons might have an argument that they were not receiving proper information from USC during the process and since Lane Kiffin is involved, I'm inclined to side with the Henderson family on that one.
The Buckeyes are in the picture, even if Miami does appear to have the lead. As long as we can keep Doc Tressel from critiquing rap performances, we have a shot. Whenever you're in the final two (again), you have to like your odds.
What I don't understand is the vocal group of OSU fans that don't want Henderson anywhere near Columbus. Yes, he could be the next Derek Morris, and yes, his father is more than just a sideshow. But with his talent, I'm willing to take that risk, even if it means he wouldn't see the field until 2011.