The waiting is over, and the USC Trojans are the big winners in the race to land Seantrel Henderson, from St. Paul (MN) Cretin Derham Hall. Henderson is the number one recruit in the country, according to Scout.com's final rankings, and held that spot his entire senior season.
Henderson, 6-foot-8, 325-pounds, selected the Trojans over such schools as Ohio State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Florida and Miami, in a nationally televised ceremony, Wednesday afternoon.
"I think I will be going with USC," Henderson announced, holding up a Trojan jersey, and hugging his parents in celebration.
Although the decision was not an easy one, Henderson explained why the Trojans were the right choice for him in the end.
"I just felt so comfortable at USC, and they have a great recruiting class coming in," Henderson explained. "I will have a lot of great players around me, and (head coach) Lane Kiffin, (defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin, and James Cregg, a great offensive line coach. I really enjoyed Los Angeles, and look forward to getting out there."
"The campus itself just fits me so well, because it's not too big, and it's not too small," he continued. "I think the class sizes and everything are just right for me."
Henderson, from St. Paul (MN) Cretin Derham Hall, began the year as one of the highest rated prospects in the country, and he did nothing to dispel that ranking.
His senior season culminated in being selected as Parade Magazine's Player of the Year. He was also named the nation's top offensive lineman at the United States Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Henderson also played, and starred, in the Army game for the victorious West squad, and afterward discussed his experience playing in the prestigious All-Star game.
"I had a tremendous week here in San Antonio," Henderson began. "Everyone treated us so great all week and the fans really came out and supported us. I didn't know too many of these players at first, but I knew they were the best players in the nation, and by the end of the week we were all great friends. Coming out with the win in the end was just perfect."
The United States Army All-American Bowl is a unique experience, and the military tie-in was not lost on Henderson.
"It meant a lot to me being a part of the game sponsored by the Army," he said. "Our Army does so much for our country, and the whole world really, and it was great having our own soldier-hero with us. I think our military people people should get noticed far more than football players, so I was glad to be able to be around them all week."
The journey to select his college was not an easy choice for Henderson, and he admitted that in an interview with Scout.com in January.
"I just try to take things in stride really, but at the same time, it is pretty stressful," he admitted. "Every time I think things are starting to fall in place, something happens, and then I'm kind of thrown for a loop. It's hard for me to narrow it down where I want to go because there have been so many coaching changes, and other things happening."
Henderson was aided in the selection process by his father, Sean, who also discussed the toll his son's recruitment took on the family, but also the lessons he wanted his son to learn from this process.
"I would say we know how blessed we are to see our son in this position, and we're quite proud of him," Sean Henderson told Scout.com in January. "It has been a little stressful, but we have tried to teach Seantrel that with high expectations and praise, come responsibilities, such as dealing cordially with people like yourself. We know people are interested in the recruiting process, and we've tried to be fair with everybody. The bottom line is that not every kid gets to meet these great coaches, or have so many great universities recruiting you, so all of us look at it as a blessing, and we're quite thankful."
On the first Wednesday in February, the recruitment of Seantrel Henderson ended, but at the same time, his college career is now just months away from beginning.
Once the glow of National Signing Day wears off, Seantrel Henderson will head back to the weight room at Cretin Derham Hall, because he knows that the announcement of a college selection doesn't end the pressure he felt as a high school superstar, it increases it dramatically.
Will Henderson end up living up to all the hype he has received at such a young age? There are no guarantees in football, but a closer look at Henderson's evaluation, by Scout.com's Dave Berk, shows how he is viewed by one professional opinion.
Berk wrote: Is there work that needs to be done? Yes. We are still talking about a high school player. But with his physical tools Seantrel is fully capable of having a great football career. Very few offensive linemen enter college ready to do battle, but Henderson, with work in preseason camp, and depending upon the need of the college he chooses, has a chance to break the rules and play a major role as a freshman.