Jaquan Henderson can’t stop smiling.
Tennessee’s 3-star commit from Covington, Ga., joined the 2017 class during the Volunteers epic “Orange Carpet Weekend” last month, and the linebacker has had a grin on his face ever since.
“You know when you get that feeling about something? When I first stepped on campus (at Tennessee) for the very first, first, first time it just put a smile on my face,” Henderson explained.
“I know I smile a lot, but this smile (was one) that everybody noticed. It was one of a kind. The way that the people treat you at the University of Tennessee, it’s hands down the best in the nation and that’s why I chose Tennessee.”
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive athlete is ranked as the No. 403 prospect in the country. He picked the Vols over Michigan, UCLA and others.
Five things to know
1. He’s fulfilling a family dream: “My mom (Sandy) growing up, she had a scholarship for Tennessee and she wanted to go to Tennessee. She ran track, but she didn’t end up going to college because she got pregnant with my older brother. That killed [her] dream right there. So I’m not doing this just for me, but for her also. It means a lot to my family. That day when I committed, I just knew that this was the perfect fit for me and the perfect choice for me and my family.”
2. He’s got skills off-the-field, too. “I’m a handyman. I like to fix things. If something gets broke around the house I like to fix it. I’m a true handy man. That’s my hidden talent. Any tool you give me I can make it work. Just put something in front of me and you tell me to build it, I can build it.”
3. The Big 3 that wasn’t: “Before I committed to Tennessee, there was (a rumor) that I was going to commit to Michigan. My former Newton teammate (running back) Kurt Taylor and my teammate now that was committed to Michigan, (receiver) Jeremiah Holloman. Supposedly we were the Big 3, so when them two committed everyone was like, ‘Oh Jaquan is de-committing from UCLA to go to Michigan. Everyone is getting hyped and all that.’ But it wasn’t true. I just rolled with the flow. I love Michigan, but it just wasn’t the fit for me.”
4. Impending trip to Rocky Top: “I’m going to visit (to Tennessee) sometime at the end of this month. I’m going to take my family up there to show all the people who played a big role in my life. I want to take and show them Tennessee, so that I can show them the reason why this is our new home.”
5. Motivated by the home-state Georgia Bulldogs: “It motivates me a lot (not getting offered by UGA). Getting an opportunity to play in the SEC at the University of Tennessee, I know when I get there and play against Georgia it’s going to be chip on my shoulder.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com