Michigan State football's Xavier Henderson returning for 2022 season

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Xavier Henderson will run it back one more time.

Michigan State football’s senior safety and captain announced Thursday via Twitter he plans to return for his extra year of eligibility.

Henderson finished second behind linebacker Cal Haladay with 96 tackles, starting all 13 games and logging a career-high 17 stops against Nebraska. He added three sacks among his 10 tackles for a loss on the season, made a one-handed, highlight-reel interception against Youngstown State, broke up another pass and forced a fumble from his strong safety spot.

[ What we learned about MSU in Peach Bowl, what to watch in 2022 ]

Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson (3) celebrates a tackle against Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.
Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson (3) celebrates a tackle against Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, has been a fixture for four years in the Spartans’ secondary, starting 33 consecutive games and playing in 46 over four seasons. He was among the top-100 active tacklers in the NCAA this season with 235 for his career.

Henderson joins wide receiver Jayden Reed in bypassing the NFL draft to return for another season. Wideout Jalen Nailor, offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis and tight end Connor Heyward are foregoing remaining eligibility to enter the draft.

COMING AND GOING:

WR Jayden Reed returning for senior year in 2022

WR Jalen Nailor declares for NFL draft

That also means Henderson will get a chance to back up his strong words after the Spartans rallied to beat the eventual Big Ten champion Michigan, 37-33, on Oct. 30. During his postgame interviews, Henderson singled out a number of former Wolverines who besmirched MSU over the years: former running back and current assistant coach Mike Hart, former defensive end Chase Winovich, former offensive lineman Taylor Lewan and former wide receiver Braylon Edwards.

“Yes, sir! What they talking about now, huh? What they talking about now?” Henderson growled. “It sounded good. It sounded good before the game.

“Thanks, Mike Hart — coach D (Mark Dantonio) said it'll never be over; it's still not over. Thanks, Winovich. Thanks, Lewan. Thanks, Braylon Edwards. I bet you know Chuck Brantley's name now, don't you?

MSU and Michigan are scheduled to meet Oct. 22 in Ann Arbor. The Spartans have won two in a row and 10 of the last 14 against the Wolverines.

Cornerback Ronald Williams also announced he will return for MSU in 2022. The senior played in all 13 games and started 10 times, finishing with 39 tackles, an interception and a team-leading eight pass breakups.

Williams has one season of eligibility remaining. He redshirted in 2017 then played two seasons at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before transferring in 2020 to Alabama, where he played in three games before suffering a broken arm.

MSU went 11-2 and won the Peach Bowl, but its pass defense finished last in among 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams by allowing 324.8 yards per game through the air this season.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State football: Xavier Henderson returning for 2022