Earlier this week, Seantrel Henderson put an end to the latest rumors of his demise at Miami simply by showing up to practice as usual, reportedly "looking trim" after unexpectedly missing the Hurricanes' first three preseason sessions to attend a funeral in his home state, Minnesota. But it turns out that was hardly the end of the story: According to the Miami Herald, the 6-foot-8, 340-pound colossus who topped national recruiting rankings two years ago has not been cleared for contact drills due to a concussion he suffered in a car accident last week, before his trip home. His return date is uncertain.
Online records posted by the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts show that Henderson was cited on Aug. 1 for three infractions – driving with an expired license, driving without a license unknowingly and disobeying a traffic sign – and fined a total of $484. Thursday morning, coach Al Golden told reporters Henderson had not been cleared because of "a medical issue" that "we think is a concussion"; later in the day, a university spokesman confirmed to USA Today that Henderson's concussion is the result of an accident. It's not clear whether anyone else was involved or injured. Also no word on the status of the vehicle with the misfortune of carrying Henderson at the moment of impact.
Henderson's father, Sean Henderson, told USA Today that he expected his son to miss more practice time due to the injury, which followed the death of his childhood friend in Minnesota and an aunt who was suffering from cancer. "I think he's strong enough to get through all of this," Sean Henderson said. "He's done some kid stuff, but he's maturing. I believe he's understanding his role as a junior to be a leader on the team. His grades are good, his back is fine. I think he's in the best shape of his life right now."
If Seantrel's weight is in fact down to 340 pounds (yes, down to 340 pounds) that may be an accurate assessment, although Henderson's first two years on campus have not set a particularly high bar for personal fitness. After starting nine games and picking up a handful of Freshman All-America notices in 2010, he missed the first four games last year following preseason back surgery, and took another month to work his way back into the starting lineup. Three weeks later, he was sidelined again by a knee injury that kept him out of the season finale against Boston College.
In March, Henderson was suspended for the start of spring practice; in June, he was the subject of rumors – the latest of many – that he was planning to leave the team or had already been dismissed. The speculation turned out to be true for Henderson's now former teammate, safety Ray-Ray Armstrong, but every indication is that Henderson is in the fold and will play this season once cleared.
If so, he's scheduled to start at right tackle, alongside the only other 'Cane lineman on either side of the ball with more experience, right guard Brandon Linder. Besides Linder (17 career starts) and Henderson (12 starts), the only other offensive linemen with multiple career starts are junior Jermaine Johnson (5) and sophomore Jon Feliciano (8), who is coming off a knee injury of his own in the spring. If Henderson can't play, for whatever reason, the job is likely to fall to a true freshman, Ereck Flowers, and the greenest lineup in the ACC will get that much greener.