CORAL GABLES, Fla. – There was no welcoming party for Seantrel Henderson's arrival in Miami.
Henderson caught a shuttle from the airport to a hotel for his first night away from home, then found his own way to the Hurricanes' football offices the following day. Under NCAA rules, Miami couldn't lift a finger to help him out, nor could the school even acknowledge that Henderson was going to become part of the team.
He's officially a Hurricane now, and Miami couldn't be more thrilled.
Touted by some as the top recruit in the country a year ago, Henderson took the field with Miami for the first time when the Hurricanes opened training camp Thursday morning. The 6-foot-8, 330-pound offensive lineman seemed to be stretching his newly issued orange mesh No. 77 jersey to its limits, even without shoulder pads on, and it took some doing to find a helmet that could accommodate his braided hair.
A big man, for sure, with an even bigger reputation.
"We've got a plan for him," Miami coach Randy Shannon said.
So did a lot of other schools, namely Southern California. The Trojans had Henderson until a few weeks ago, losing the native of St. Paul, Minn. after they were hit by NCAA sanctions. Once he got his release without restrictions, Henderson re-opened his college search and quickly settled on Miami, despite the fact that Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida were his other three finalists last winter.
He is eligible to play for the Hurricanes this fall, and Shannon said Henderson will have an opportunity to get on the field right away.
"Kids who are coming in now, they haven't been through the summer training," Shannon said. "We don't want to go out there and just throw them to the wolves. And then all of a sudden, they're down in the tank and you've got to bring them back up. Very positive about everything that was happening today."
Henderson was not made available to reporters after the season's first practice.
"All I can say right now," Miami quarterback Jacory Harris said Thursday, "is he's huge."
Henderson didn't participate in the entire practice, only because Miami held him out of certain drills so he could watch and see how the Hurricanes do things.
When he was on the field, Henderson's footwork was what Shannon found to be particularly impressive. Coaches describe Henderson's combination of size, strength and athleticism as freakish, noting that he was a standout basketball player (who expressed interest in playing at the college level) and even once won a 1,500-meter race years ago at the Minnesota Junior Olympics.
"He's fit. He looks physically fit," Shannon said. "But you know, like anything, big guys, it takes them about two weeks really to get involved in it. So the first week is going to be a struggle. Second week, they'll feel a little better. Third week, they should be in tune, ready to go."
Teammates have welcomed Henderson with open arms, Shannon said. Once word broke about a month ago that Henderson picked Miami, several players began reaching out to their new teammate-in-waiting, some of them even going to his hotel Tuesday night to say hello.
While stretching Thursday, Henderson slapped hands with any teammate he could reach, even smiling as sweat rolled off his face.
"It's a start. You know, he's got to do what he has to get done," Shannon said. "He's been positive, he's been great, he's been joking around. When it was time get out on the field, he worked hard today. When it was time for him to be taking notes, he was taking notes. So that's all he has to do, do those little things. And whatever happens after that plan-wise, he's going to be OK."