The recruitment of prized left tackle Seantrel Henderson spells out the messy truth of elite college recruiting: If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.
In today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer, Doug Lesmerises points out that the Ohio State Buckeyes committed four secondary rules violations while pursuing Henderson, one of many schools to have violated NCAA rules while trying to get Henderson to commit to their respective football programs.
Here are the four Henderson violations reported by Ohio State, according to a public records request from The Plain Dealer:
• Former Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, now with New Orleans
Saints, encouraged Henderson to attend Ohio State when asked a question
during Super Bowl media day. A video of the request appeared on a Web
site. Former players can’t recruit for their old school.
• Current quarterback Terrelle Pryor sent a text message to Henderson
telling him to attend Ohio State, as reported in a New York Times
story. A Notre Dame player was reported to have done the same thing and
Notre Dame filed a similar violation report. Current players can’t
recruit for a school that way.
• In an online video, Henderson is seen talking to former OSU
receiver Cris Carter during his official visit to Columbus. Again,
former players can’t recruit. Another school turned in Ohio State for
this incident after viewing the video.
• Henderson and several other recruits walked through the tunnel of
fans that line the path from Ohio State’s pep rally at St. John Arena to
Ohio Stadium. The recruits didn’t walk with the team, but around the
same time, and that was determined to be a secondary violation.
Ohio State wasn’t the only school caught in the Henderson glare.
Minnesota self-reported a violation for some of the props used in its
recruiting pitch during a Henderson visit.
Overall, the OSU athletic department reported 13 secondary violations
between Jan. 1 and July 1 of this year, including three of the
Henderson incidents. Rogers said a rule of thumb is for a department to
average one secondary violation per sport per year. Ohio State has 36
If you notice, Lesmerises links a secondary recruiting violation to Notre Dame because of a text message exchange between Henderson and Irish wide receiver Michael Floyd. Upon reading, I was surprised that a text between former high school teammates would be considered a violation, especially considering the long-standing relationship between Floyd and Henderson.
So it came as no surprise when I read that Christian McCollum of IrishSportsDaily.com reported that Notre Dame denies committing any violations during the recruitment of Henderson, citing Director of Football Communications Brian Hardin’s comments that Notre Dame has filed no such report with the NCAA.
With the toothless nature of secondary violations, this all seems pretty academic. Even with four violations, Ohio State watched Henderson commit to USC, then move on to Miami after USC’s own NCAA violations came to light.
While Notre Dame seemed to be a player early in the recruitment of Henderson, the only time they’ll see him on the field is in Chicago in 2012, when the Hurricanes take on the Irish at Solider Field. Still, Irish fans can take solace that while they didn’t land Henderson, at least they played by the rules.
(Even if the rules don’t really matter…)