When Shaker Heights (Ohio) high school built its new turf field last summer, 2014 defensive end Joe Henderson (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) was ecstatic. But the lights weren't installed at the same time, which meant during his junior season, the team wouldn't be playing on Friday nights. Instead, in a less iconic and thrilling manner, they'd play on Saturday afternoons at home.
But the much less thrilling part was that Henderson knew he'd probably be unable to take any unofficial visits during the 2012 NCAA football season to the colleges that are recruiting him.
And with offers five offers so far (Michigan, Illinois, Pitt, Cincinnati and Akron) the 6-foot-3, 210-pound defensive end was a bit disappointed.
"It kind of stinks," Henderson said. "I almost wish we'd just have more away games on Fridays so that we could go visit schools and watch them play on Saturdays."
Instead, he'll try to take visits after his season is over, possibly making it to campuses for basketball games. He knows quite a bit about each of the schools from some background research and just growing up as a football fan, but he knows that on-campus visits are crucial during recruitment.
He doesn't have an offer from Ohio State but he said the three schools that contact him the most are Ohio State, Michigan and Cincinnati, so he'll make it a priority to get to those three schools as quickly as he can.
"I'm in contact with all three of those schools almost every other day," Henderson said. "[Defensive coordinator Greg] Mattison keeps telling me to finish out my season strong and that he has been watching me."
Henderson has gained interest from schools for his speed and quickness, something he worked on during the offseason. Because of that talent on the field Henderson leads Shaker Heights in sacks and tackles for loss.
He said attending camps, including Michigan's, helped him to get other coaches' perspectives on his game and that he brought that back to Ohio. He and his high school coaches are working to build on it.
"My coaches have been able train me with new techniques," Henderson said. "They're getting me even more fundamentally sound on the field. Technique-wise I’ve been taught a lot so far."
And as he continues to move through the recruiting process and actually get on campus for some visits, eventually -- though he doesn’t have an exact timeline yet -- he'll be able to decide to which program he'll take those fundamentals in two years.