As the favorite target of future Texas starting quarterback David Ash while the two were at Belton, Adrian Henderson always knew he could compete with the best.
Now after two years proving himself at Trinity Valley Community College, the 6-foot, 195-pound receiver is getting the opportunity he thought he so rightly deserved coming out of high school.
“I felt like in my heart and in my mind I was a Division I athlete, I was just overlooked or not even given a chance,” said Henderson, who is expected to sign with the University of Memphis on Wednesday.
“I really just wanted to prove to myself and any of those that doubted me. Because I knew I had the talent, ... I knew I could play on that level, so I just had to keep chasing my dream.”
Despite dealing with some hampering injuries, the ex-Tigers receiver saw his dream come to pass last Saturday when he was offered and committed to Memphis during an official visit to the school.
“I was pretty stoked about that, because I didn’t really have the season I wanted to have, but I guess it was good enough,” said Henderson, who played in just seven games after suffering a separated right shoulder and a pulled left quad early in the season.
“Coming out of high school, I felt like I deserved it. But when you work that much harder for it, it was really touching.”
While his production was clearly
there, emerging as the go-to option to a Division I-caliber quarterback in Ash that would make six starts at Texas as a true freshman, it was Henderson’s non-prototypical size that caused Division I colleges pause.
“I think Adrian didn’t fit the exact mode, because everyone wants that 6-4 receiver, but I think what they found out was Adrian can play at that level,” Belton head coach Rodney Southern said.
Memphis (4-8) wrapped up its first season under new head coach Justin Fuente, who previously was the co-offensive coordinator at TCU under Gary Patterson from 2007-11. Memphis is slated to join the Big East next season.
“When I shook coach Fuente’s hand in the coaches office, it was just a rollercoaster of emotions,” Henderson said.
But it was his disappointment of not earning much Division I interest out of high school that inspired Henderson to work even harder to prove himself as the overlooked prospect he knew himself to be.
“Motivation was never a real issue. Adrian knew he could play at that level, it was just a matter of getting the right opportunity,” Southern said.
Henderson finished his senior campaign at Belton with a district-leading 53 catches for 743 yards and 13 touchdowns, and was named a first-team All-District 12-5A and Daily Herald All-Area receiver.
Yet, despite watching other teammates such as Ash achieve their college dreams, Henderson felt left out in the cold, ultimately signing with Trinity Valley. Thankfully, it was just the motivation he needed to count himself playing at the highest level.
“At the time, JUCOs and Trinity Valley weren’t very appealing to me, obviously, “Henderson said. “But it turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me,” Henderson said.