Los Angeles has become synonymous with sunny weather and beautiful beaches, but when it came to choosing where to spend the next four years of his football career, Jaquan Henderson knew there was more he needed to consider.
Newton’s upcoming senior 3-star safety once committed to UCLA during his recruiting process after being allured by the atmosphere of the city.
“When I first went out there to California for the first time in my whole entire life, it just blew my mind,” Henderson said. “UCLA is in a great city and has great people that treat you well. It’s just a different type of atmosphere that I haven’t seen or been in before.”
Somewhere down the line, however, he changed his mind, setting his sights on nearby Tennessee which would allow him to play closer to home.
“At the moment, I thought UCLA was the perfect fit for me until I went to Tennessee, and I knew it was only 3-4 hours from home,” Henderson said. “It’s close, and my parents could come see me play every home game. And I’d be in the SEC playing against my home team Georgia, who didn’t believe in my ability.”
In his career as a member of the Newton High School football team, Henderson has totaled 121 tackles, 81 of which were solo, and 17 sacks. He received offers from Louisville, Colorado, Mississippi State and more, but the Southeastern Conference is where he knew he wanted to be.
“It’s the SEC,” he said. “That’s big boy football.”
Citing his relationship with the coaching staff, tradition and the chance to hit the field early a freshman as key selling points, Henderson’s admiration for the Vols shows why Tennessee is the right fit for him. With just more year left as a Ram, he plans to leave it all on the field, and hopefully in the history books.
“Before I leave Newton,” he said, “I hope to break some defensive records and to be remembered as a leader on the team and just in general as a football player in Newton County doing great things on the field.”