The 2020 Notre Dame football recruiting class has been largely locked up for the better part of three months, with all seventeen members signing today making their commitment prior to the season starting. It was known from the beginning this would be a smaller class due to the scholarship numbers on the roster, so the staff was able to move quickly on their top targets and earn their pledges. This also gave the staff a chance to get a big head start on the 2021 class, which now sits at #1 overall, albeit being very early in the process.
There was one lone prospect though, out in Bakersfield, California, who had remained undecided throughout the fall and into signing day: three star defensive back Ramon Henderson.
Notre Dame got on Henderson early last summer when he was ranked in the 1,000’s overall, and he has since moved about 500 spots, and he currently sits at 603 by composite, and notably ranked #266 according to 247’s in house rankings, firmly in four star territory. Notre Dame beat out several schools for the 6-2, 183 pound defensive back prospect, including Oklahoma, Utah, and Tennessee.
Because of his mid three star status, his commitment won’t receiver the fan fare of a lot of his other classmates, but there is reason to believe his upside is as high as anyone outside of the top four.
Much like current receiver Braden Lenzy, Henderson is an accomplished track athlete who boasts times comparable to the former Oregon state champion. Henderson boasts 100 and 200 meter bests of 10.59 and 21.67, edging out Lenzy in the 100 (10.62) and falls just shy in the 200 (21.34). We all know what it looked like with Lenzy blazing down the field and reverses and deep posts, and that is the type of speed Henderson brings to the table.
Similar to Lenzy, Henderson is a very long strider, in the same way Miles Boykin was, but his acceleration is a sight to see on film. When he takes off the line, he played receiver as well as defensive back in high school, he eats up ground on his opponents in a way that makes it seem like they are in slow motion. If you just focused on Henderson it would seem he’s barely moving at all, but when contrasted with the defense it jumps off the screen.
As long as we are doing comparisons, Henderson is built in the same stature as former defensive back Robert Blanton, who starred at corner before moving on to play safety in the NFL. Despite his length and long strides, Henderson has quick feet and loose hips. He’s able to transition from his peddle to the turn and run pretty smoothly, and at 6-2 he obviously isn’t losing very many jump balls. He’s the type of corner Notre Dame hasn’t had since Blanton from 2011. The taller corners they’ve featured, a la Donte Vaughn, had good size but didn’t have the athleticism of someone like Henderson. Those who have displayed that athleticism, Troy Pride and Shaun Crawford, have been under six feet tall.
Henderson’s size plus speed combination represents the total package in what a coach is looking for in a corner, it’d just be a matter of refining his technique to play at the major college level. But, as far as physical skills go, he’s peerless on the Irish roster.
When watching film of Henderson, you’ll see he plays a ton of offense, and with his size it’s very easy to see him playing safety should his career take him in that direction. I think he’s good enough to be a receiver, he returned kickoffs for a few touchdowns during his high school career, and with the strides he has and the way he eats up ground, it’s definitely something to consider.
This is the exact type of player you’d want if you’re taking a chance on a three star player. He’s a big, fast athlete who plays the game without much refinement due to not having a set position, but the physical traits are glaring. He can help on offense or defense, his special teams value is obvious, and his upside is tremendous. I don’t know how most feel about him, but for my part I’m as excited about him as anyone else in this class with the exception of the top three. Long story short, it’s a good thing that he decided to sign up.