Michigan provided much to OL Ladarius Henderson


Leading up to the cutoff for declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft, there were a lot of thoughts that former Arizona State offensive lineman Ladarius Henderson would test his talent on the highest levels and opt for the NFL. Not many people would have blamed him. At the time, Henderson was a 29-game starter for the Sun Devils with experience both at offensive tackle and offensive guard. That experience, along with his long arms (35 inches) and natural athleticism, are huge sells for the evaluators on the next level.

Add in the fact that Arizona State was amidst a coaching transition, and coming off of a 3-9 season, it was understandable if it was time. For Henderson, he didn’t want to end his college career that way. He wanted to play to his potential and showcase his skills on the biggest stage. 

“Right after the season before I got to Michigan, I was at a crossroads,” Henderson explained. “Do I declare for the draft or do I go back to college? In my mind, it was either going to declare for the draft or go to Michigan. There was no other option. I wasn’t going to be entertaining the amount of new dollars I could’ve got somewhere else because there were numbers, great numbers, but I knew I had one year to boost my draft stock as much as I can. I had one year to do what I want to do and put it and close the book on this college career. 

“So I wanted to go play with the best offensive line and they have just come off of winning two Joe Moore Awards,” Henderson continued. “So I wanted to play for the best offensive line coach and I wanted to be on a national stage because in the Pac-12, you feel like nobody’s watching that at 9 PM or West Coast time. You play games like the game versus Ohio State and the whole world is watching. That was a new feeling for me and I love that.” 

In the age of the Transfer Portal, student athletes are given options to find a better fit and different situations. For some, they flourish. For others, it doesn’t work out. Henderson is definitely one of the success stories. 

“The Transfer Portal definitely helped me,” he stated. “Obviously the relationship with Coach (Sherrone) Moore, being able to go to Michigan and start for a National Championship team. I know the portal is a great opportunity for players now because you get to weigh your options and see what the best case scenario is for your future. You can weigh everything that’s involved there.”

Looking back at the lone year at Michigan, it provided Henderson with a lot, both professionally and personally. From a football perspective, he got to prove himself on the highest level. Henderson also got the chance to showcase his abilities at left tackle after playing the last couple of seasons inside. That versatility should be a big help on the next level.

“I think it helps me a ton, which is part of the reason why I wanted to come to Michigan,” said Henderson. “I knew Coach Moore wanted me to play left tackle and I played it as a freshman, but nobody really cares what I did as a freshman. So now they’ll know for sure that I am position flexible. It means a ton just to be able to even switch those positions in game and understand the technique needed to play those different positions because they’re very different.”

Then from a personal level, Henderson was a part of history. That lone season will be one to remember forever. He will have a chance to look back one day and know he was a part of something special.

“Man, it’s surreal,” explained Henderson. “It’s obviously super cool because I have a ton of things I can tell my kids someday when I have kids and they’ll think I was way cooler than I actually am. But it is awesome to be a part of history, legit making history in every facet. It’s amazing just to win a National Championship, break this record and hopefully we can break the draft record with the amount of guys we hope to get drafted. Honestly, man, it is amazing.”

We are inching closer and closer to the 2024 NFL Draft kicking off at the end of April. Henderson is very likely to hear his name called, which he owes a lot to his talents as a player, the quality and character he brings as a man, and what that year at Michigan provided. 

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