CORAL GABLES -- Seantrel Henderson isn't 100 percent healthy -- that much is clear. But the 6-8, 345-pound sophomore offensive tackle wasn't going to sit this season out. And now his plan is to give the Canes' offensive line whatever he can moving forward.
Henderson saw his first action of the season Saturday versus Bethune-Cookman and saw 11 offensive snaps and a couple snaps on extra points. It wasn't anything special. But considering Henderson had back surgery August 8th to repair a herniated disc and was told by doctors initially he would miss the entire 2011 season, the fact Henderson has returned to a Canes uniform this quickly can be seen as a victory all around.
"I was kind of getting like depressed just sitting there watching my teammates play everyday and not being able to do anything," Henderson said Tuesday -- the first time the Freshman All-American has been allowed to speak with the media since injuring his back in the spring.
"They told me I was supposed to miss the season. I didn't think I was going to be back this year. I think it was just the rehab and treatment I was getting everyday [that helped me get back]. I was just working hard."
Although he likely won't start at right tackle Saturday against Virginia Tech, Henderson said Tuesday he's ready for more action. And that's good news for a UM offensive line that will have the challenge of slowing down a Hokies pass rush that has produced 15 sacks in 5 games. UM, meanwhile, has allowed four sacks in four games.
"I haven’t been to Blacksburg but I’ve heard it’s real loud so we have hand gestures and all sorts of things to help us communicate well with each other,” Henderson said.
As for how he injured his back in the spring, Henderson said he was doing squats in the UM weight room when he "just kind of felt my leg just go dead, numb.
"I didn't know what it was," Henderson said. "I thought I just pulled a hip muscle or something like that. I didn't get an MRI until the day before our spring game. Then I knew."
Although his pain has subsided some since the surgery, Henderson said he still feels it every now and then and did so Saturday against Bethune-Cookman. The coaching staff has limited his leg work in the weight room to help prevent a further flare up.
"I just got to make sure I get my rehab in every day as far as ice tubs and ice in my back and heat just to make sure I'm doing everything so I don't have too much strain in my back," Henderson said.
Throughout his rehab, Henderson said he's maintained his weight at 345 pounds -- 40 pounds lighter than where he came in at last year. He said while he couldn't work out as hard with his legs because of the injury he kept working out his upper body.
Is he back to where he wants to be with his legs? "I'm still working on getting it back," Henderson said. "But I'm pretty close."
Eventually, Henderson's future will be at left tackle for UM. But right now, he said he just wants to get back on the field and help.
"He looked pretty good out there to me today," defensive tackle Adewale Ojomo said of Henderson Tuesday. "Me and Seantrel, we went at it today. He's a very strong, physical guy. Either you're the hammer or you're the nail, and I wasn't going to be the nail today. He was putting guys on their butt -- just not me."