Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Tackling Machine - Alexander Henderson

Next weekend will be Alexander Henderson's last game in a Gamecock uniform. Hopefully, it won't be his last football game. There is no doubt the Mobile native has the skill, desire and passion to take his talent to the next level. If an NFL team wants a winner, he will get the chance.

Henderson took a non-traditional route to JSU. His only scholarship offers were to very small schools, but JSU coach Matt Wannebo encouraged him to walk-on with the promise of a scholarship if he showed he could play. Obviously, a good call by Wannebo and needless to say Zander is now on scholarship. He really burst on the scene last year leading the team with over 100 tackles despite missing the Tech game. He had two 20+ tackle games and earned all OVC honors.

Henderson picked up where he left off last year and already has over 100 tackles. After yet another big day against Tennessee Tech, Henderson sat down with to reflect on his career, JSU and his plans for the future.

Q: What's your best memory playing at JSU?

A: Even with all of the [success we have had], I would have to say it was my first play against Furman my redshirt freshman year. It was a great feeling because I had worked so hard to get to that spot. I had been told that I couldn't play D1 football. That was my best moment because it really solidified me as one of the players out there.

Q: To what do you attribute your success in leading the team in tackles two years in a row?

A: Just a great defense. Playing with great D-lineman, Brandt Thomas, Jamison Wadley, Santez Mays all those guys. They work hard for me. I have a "want" to get to the ball, but those guys really do a lot for me by stopping the offensive linemen from getting back there to the second level. I give them a lot of respect for that and credit a lot of my success to that.

Q: The Gamecock defense was good last year, but it was dominant this year. What has been the difference?

A: We have become close so as a D spending time together. We are kind of competitive on who does what. We don't want to let each other down because we have a certain bond. We don't want to let each other down because we are so close. I credit our closeness as to why we have been so successful.

Q: Lets talk about some of your teammates. Tell me about the Certified Bonecrusher, Morrell Jones?

A: Morrell Jones is going to be a great player some day. He has [already] been playing great. I think he could be one of the next leading tacklers. He's fast. If you haven't noticed yet, he's fast, he's good.

Q: How about Andrew Ridgeway, it seems like he's been at JSU for about 12 years?

A: We are very close. He is my friend. I feel like he is leaving with me, but he has another year. Andrew is very smart [on the field]. He has a "want to" to get to that ball. He plays with an edge that gravitates to the whole D. We love Ridge being out there. He is a good player.

Q: What about Kevin Dix?

A: I'm at a loss for words. I didn't know he was going to be this good. When he gets close to getting to the quarterback, he has a motor like I've never seen before.

Q: Does he have an opportunity to play in the NFL?

A: I really do. I think he has a very good chance. I don't see why a team would not look at him because he is a great player.

Q: What about young Eric Russell, who has really come on this year?

A: Out of all of the linebackers, . . . he has the best athletic talent out of all of us. He is an amazing athlete. He can jump, run fast, makes tackles. He is a good inside linebacker, don't get me wrong, but when we find that right spot for him that he can learn he is going to flourish and be really good.

Q: Coach Crowe said you were the best player on the team for either team after the FSU game- what did that mean to you?

A: It really meant a lot to me. He recognized that I had the ability to play with those guys and that Coach was showing me a lot of love that I didn't know was there for me as a [former] walk on behind the scenes guy.

Q: What was your emotions coming out of that game?

A: I was hurt but I was also happy because my teammates played their heart out. Everybody played hard. I wish we could have gotten the win, that's why I was so hurt but I was so happy to be out their with my teammates.

Q: What's it like watching FSU and Tech on TV after being on the field with them earlier in the year?

A: We watched the Georgia Tech game on the bus last week. It was kind of surreal being that we were just in the stadium playing those guys. I felt like we were close to playing on the same level with them.

Q: How do you feel about getting an opportunity to avenge your loss to EKU last year?

A: This is my last chance to get back at EKU so we are going to give them everything we have. This is the last game of the year so we are going to have to come with it and send the seniors off in a great manner.

Q: Is the NFL in your future?

A: I hope. I pray on it all the time.

Q: Do you think you have a chance to get drafted or more likely a free agent?

A: I leave it up to [the decision makers]. Either way, I will give any team that takes a chance on me everything I have.

Q: Are you on schedule to graduate/what will you do after graduation?

A: I'm scheduled to graduate this fall. I major in sociology. Right after the season I will go work with a trainer [in the hopes of improving draft status].

Q: What is your forty time?

A: Last time I was timed it was like a 4.6.

Q: What is your dream NFL team to play for?

A: The New Orleans Saints. I know its far fetched, but that's been my team for the longest time. I am from Mobile and that's the closest team.

Q: If the NFL doesn't work, what are your plans?

A: To get my masters degree in business. Hopefully, try to do something in the business world and do something entreprenurial. I would love to do something related to football, just to be around it. I have been around football my whole life since I was 3.

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