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Longview's Henderson commits to TCU

By Jimmy Carter jcarter@news-journal.com
Feb. 24, 2013 at 12:54 p.m.


Longview junior Zaycoven Henderson made eye contact with his dad while sitting in TCU coach Gary Patterson's office on his junior day visit Sunday.

One of the top defensive tackles in Texas was off the recruiting market moments later.

Henderson verbally committed to TCU, choosing the Horned Frogs over offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Baylor, Texas Tech and SMU. He was also drawing interest from Texas and Texas A&M.

"It just seemed like it was the perfect time," Henderson said. "I was like why wait when I had my mind made up that I wanted to commit to TCU. Coach Patterson stopped everything and said, 'Me and my wife have this saying, 'Are you going to date with us or are you going to be married to us.'

"I told him I want to be married to TCU."

Henderson is ranked the No. 74 player in Texas in the class of 2014 and the No. 4 instate defensive tackle by Rivals.com. He is ranked the No. 87 player instate and the No. 3 defensive tackle by 24/7 Sports.

The 6-foot-3, 276-pounder racked up 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two sacks while helping Longview lead the district in run defense as a junior. He also turned heads by winning Defensive Line MVP honors at the Next Level Athlete Top 100 Showcase in Pasadena on Jan. 20.

"To know I would be one of the only d-tackles they'd offer in the state of Texas made me feel good," Henderson said. "They didn't guarantee me a starting spot like other schools did. They were just straightforward that if I come in, hit the weights hard and perform at practice, I'd touch the field."

Patterson was excited when Henderson made the decision to commit.

"He went in the hallway yelling for the coaches," Henderson said. "Every coach and person that had something to do with athletics stood around and waited on me to make a decision. That was special."

One of those coaches was highly-regarded defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas, who also serves as TCU's defensive line coach. Henderson enjoyed meeting Bumpas and seeing the continuity of the coaching staff while on the visit.

"To have an opportunity for him to coach me and help me get better is just amazing," Henderson said. "He can teach me so much. Another thing that stood out to me is their coaching stability. Everyone is just staying there 15 or 16 years."

Henderson also got to meet two of TCU's freshmen defensive players.

He chatted with defensive end Devonte Fields, who was named the Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. He also talked to safety Jordan Moore, who tore his ACL in December.

"Devonte's a very cool guy," Henderson said. "He told me how everything goes. He said you don't have too much to worry about as long as you take care of your grades, go to class on time and work hard.

"What kind of put it over the top was talking to Jordan. He was talking about how he tore his ACL and everybody came together like a family and picked him up. They upheld his scholarship. He told me its more than just football." 

The private school's small enrollment and Fort Worth location less than three hours from Longview was a draw to Henderson.

"I like the academics," Henderson said. "The ratio between teachers and students is 20:1. And there is only like 8,600 students at TCU. I have a better chance of getting one on one with a teacher and getting to know him or her better.

"And My mom and dad loved the place all day and loved everything about it. So they can come up and watch me play. That was a big concern for me because I need that family support."

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(Follow me on Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/jicartersports">@jicartersports</a>)

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