Seantrel Henderson had big plans for his junior year at the University of Miami.
He was going to come in healthy and in the best shape of his life, ready to start playing like the athlete everyone hoped and expected him to be when he was named USA Today's Offensive Player of the Year in 2009 and the top high school senior lineman in the country.
But the past couple weeks have been really hard on the 6-8, 340-pound junior. He had a friend and a relative pass away, and a couple days before he returned home to Minnesota to attend the funeral of his friend, Henderson was involved in a car accident in Miami on Aug. 1 while driving with a suspended license. He suffered a minor concussion and has yet to be cleared to return to action.
He said at Saturday's UM media luncheon that hopes to be back "either next week or the week after." But it's clear Henderson is dealing with what happened emotionally and physically and focusing on football hasn't been easy.
"I took a couple hard losses to my friends and family members and I'm just trying to get back on the field, get back in shape so I can help my team the way I want to and the way they need me to," said Henderson, who was back at practice on a stationary bike for the first time in three days.
"It is kind of difficult and I can't say I'm all the way past it."
Henderson, cited for three infractions in the accident and fined $484, said he was wearing his seat belt during the crash, but didn't elaborate on specifics. A public information officer told The Miami Herald recently Henderson wasn't alone in the crash and at least one teammate was with him, but that no one was seriously injured.
"It was kind of scary," Henderson said. "I'm just glad to still be alive... To be honest, I don't want to relive it. I'm kind of past that. It was just real scary. I really didn't know what happened at first. I just kind of blanked a little bit."
While Henderson has been out, true freshman Ereck Flowers has seized the opportunity at right tackle. He's impressed coaches and could end up starting Sept. 1 at Boston College if Henderson doesn't return soon and reestablish himself as the starter. Henderson said he knows "I have to take control of it now."
"Our first game is in less than a month. I know I only have so much time," Henderson said.
I know it's going to be a little difficult just for the simple fact I haven't been out there. But just in terms of being in shape and things like that, I'm just trying to get my wind back. Once I do it, I'm going to work as hard as I can."