Five-star K.J. Henry has reached a milestone in his recruitment. The defensive end out of Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth has announced a top ten of Alabama, Charlotte, Clemson, Georgia, Louisville, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech. Henry gave Rivals.com and inside look at his final ten contenders.
Weakside defensive end
IN HIS OWN WORDS…
"I think with Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, and Ohio State I just feel very comfortable when I'm on those campuses and talking to those coaches," Henry said. "The plans that they individually have for me, I see myself being very successful with those plans. It's no surprise that these schools made my top ten.
"For Virginia Tech, I think the more exciting factor on the offensive side of the ball grabbed my attention," he said. "With coach Foster on the defensive side Virginia Tech has a great resume of being one of the top defenses in the country each year. They are very competitive on that side of the ball. Now that they have something to equal them out on the offensive side I think that makes them a very dangerous team. Them being in my top ten means I feel like I could fit into their program.
"Talking to coach Muschamp at South Carolina this past weekend I had a chance to sit down with him and my family," said Henry. "We got to go through what he's looking for and what type of guys he is recruiting. Seeing the spring game with my own eyes, there was no doubt that there was a little bit of a struggle on the defensive line. There are no promises made in this business but there is an opportunity for me to play early and get some good stats up if I work hard and were to go there. I think that idea really intrigues me about South Carolina
"I had a great time going up to Pittsburgh, seeing that facility and getting a feel for coach Narduzzi," he said. "I was there for the Villanova game. My dad's good friend and an uncle to me, Kevin Sherman, is a coach there. I get to talk to him and we are very close. Being a family member of mine, he doesn't pressure me too much but he definitely keeps me up to date with everything. I think them being so closely related with a NFL team in the Pittsburgh Steelers is a pretty cool thing. I'm pretty sure they're the only school in the country that's that close to a NFL team. They are in the heart of the city and they played very good football this year, being the only team to beat Clemson. They must be doing something right.
"When it comes to Penn State, that's the only school in my top ten that I haven't visited," Henry said. "I'd like to get up there for a visit. Coach Franklin came down here to visit and, when I looked back at it, he was one of the only head coaches to come visit me. He's a great guy and with the resume they have as a football team and the success that they've had I thought I should give them a chance. Outside of the coaches, Micah Parsons is always in my ear. Both Pennsylvania teams are still in the hunt.
"Being closely connected with coach Galloway got me up to Louisville for a visit," he said. "It's been a while since I've been there. They're another team that has struggled on the defensive line. They had Devonte Fields this year and he was a great player. I think they're another team that could have an elite defense but struggled on the defensive line. That really plays into what I'm looking for plus the fact that I'm so close with coach Galloway. He's a great guy and has always been good to us. I was there last summer for a one day visit.
"There is nothing hidden here," said Henry. "My dad coaches at Charlotte now and I've always been a family man. That's why they're getting this chance. I'd like to see what they're going to do this year but my dad coaching there gives them a better chance than people think.
"At Georgia I have a really good relationship with the coaches," he said. "At Alabama I also have a really good relationship with the coaches and players. Clemson's fans and their players are also very close with me as well. Those are the three schools where I have the best relationships.
"The best food I've had on a visit is a tie between Alabama and Tennessee, even though they didn't make my top ten," Henry said. "I had ribs, wings, and all the stuff a high school football player wants. Tennessee had great mac and cheese and ribs. They had a little more country style stuff. That's what I'm used to in North Carolina.
"The one thing that stands out from all my visits was being at Clemson and their new facility," he said. "I was out there playing basketball and hitting golf balls. That's not something you'd think you'd be doing on a visit. Honestly I just wanted my parents to go out there to talk to coach Swinney because I had already talked to him and then I found myself in a bowling alley. I'm a kid at heart and having that little bit of flavor was definitely they most exciting part.
"I think this is going to be about which team needs the most help but at the same time can win games," said Henry. "My dad told gave me this piece of advice a long time ago. This has to be a selfish decision because I need to get my time on the field and win as well. There are lot of schools that would give me that attention so I just need to find the right school that produces wins and gets players to the NFL by, not necessarily playing them early, but getting them productive minutes while they're out there."
Henry and his family have taken a very methodical approach to his recruitment. They have the added benefit of having his father's experience and point of view to double check everything they are hearing and seeing. So far it's pretty clear that Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State are the measuring stick by which other teams are compared. They have more to learn about Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Penn State, and Pittsburgh so there are still a lot of unknowns in Henry's recruitment. Ohio State has yet to host Henry's entire family so that will be something to keep an eye on down the road.