The ending to the newest Seantrel Henderson saga is a good one for the University of Miami and its football fans. Henderson, UM's 6-8, 340-pound right tackle, returned last night to the team and addressed his teammates.
He's out there now on Monday at practice No. 4, and looks really good -- as trim and fit as I can ever remember seeing him. He can't wear pads yet, but he was doing blocking drills this morning for the 15 minutes of media viewing -- and sprinting from drill to drill.
His teammates seemed genuinely happy to have him back, and the offensive linemen are relieved as well.
"It's good to have him back,'' said UM coach Al Golden. "We'll see where he's at in terms of going through the acclimation process and then we'll go from there. He's got to go through helmets [and shorts, without pads] for two days.
"You guys are the only ones talking about it. There's no one else talking about it. He was away at his friend's funeral. He came back yesterday, went to all the meetings last night and now we're moving forward.
"Again, we're just trying to improve. He started two games and played 200 plays last year. That's like a lost year. We're trying to improve on what he did last year."
Golden said Henderson has to go through all the conditioning tests that his teammates recently conquered. "This is not the NFL where you just show up and go out and practice. You gotta do two days in helmets, you gotta do compliance items, you've got to fill out all these different forms. That's why we take a whole day to process everybody. It's going to take a while for him.
"We got a lot done yesterday, now we've got to get him transitioned here.''
"Just to have him back and see his smiling face always makes us all happy,'' said guard Jonathan Feliciano. "He brings us up. It's going to create a lot more competition."
Fifth-year senior receiver Kendal Thompkins called Henderson "a real big part of the team.
"We know the talent he brings to the team, and his personality, man. He's a cool guy and he's a funny guy to be around. Just to feel his presence again is a good feeling.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN