One-on-one with 5-star defensive end K.J. Henry


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Henry works out at Dabo Swinney's camp last summer
Henry works out at Dabo Swinney's camp last summer

Clemson doesn’t ever have to rebuild at the defensive end spot, it just reloads. That reloading will go a lot smoother if the Tigers land 5-star prospect K.J. Henry out of Clemmons (NC) West Forsyth.

Henry is listed as the nation’s 15th-best prospect regardless of position by Rivals, while ESPN has Henry rated at No. 19 in the ESPN300. He has offers from all of the major players, including Clemson, but he didn’t make it for the Tigers’ recent Elite Junior Day.

However, a visit is in the works.

“I have to sit down and talk to my parents this weekend or next,” Henry told TigerNet this week. “I couldn’t make it down due to me turning eighteen. I am definitely trying to make it down this upcoming spring. I haven’t set a certain date on it yet, though.”

Plenty of coaches have been by West Forsyth to check in on Henry in recent weeks.

“Coach (Dabo) Swinney has stopped by to check on me with Coach (Nick) Saban, Coach (Larry) Fedora from Carolina, Coach (Will) Muschamp, just a lot of guys who have come just to name a few,” Henry said.

Henry has enjoyed his brief conversations with new defensive ends coach Todd Bates.

“He seems like a great guy and a great fit for taking Coach Hobby’s and Coach Brooks spot,” Henry said. “Two great defensive line coaches with great personalities. I think Coach Bates definitely fits that role as well.”

If he makes it on a visit, Henry wants to see the Clemson Football Complex.

“It’s no shocker, but I have to get down there and see the new football facility ya’ll have built down there,” he said. “I have to go down the slide. It looks like a playground for teenagers. I definitely like the environment, I have seen the school and been to the camps. I think it’s the next step of seeing if I can see myself going there and doing everyday-basis things and meeting the people is what I am looking forward to.”

Henry says he isn’t close to making a decision.

“Next in my recruiting would be trimming my list down. I know another conversation I will have with my parents will be going through each school doing the pros and cons type thing,” he said. “Trying to get it down to about ten or so schools and then take it through the recruiting process and try to figure out my top five and where I’ll take my officials. Ultimately I’ll try to get a decision this football season and to be completely honest probably after football season. I can see myself making it then.”

He has received offers from all over the country.

“It is definitely a blessing and something I don’t take for granted. I think what I love most is when people ask me if this process gets old or not and it never gets old,” he said. “A couple of years ago I was one of the kids playing mighty mite and youth football, and now I’m living the dream. This is just the beginning, and I don’t take anything for granted. I try to work for everything I’ve earned. I love it all, and I really appreciate what these coaches have given me and these great opportunities.”

When it comes to Clemson, the Tigers’ reputation of having outstanding defensive ends only helps with Henry.

“It definitely does,” he said. “There is a lot of other schools out there that have that reputation as well, but having Coach Swinney on their side, and the great family atmosphere, it definitely doesn’t hurt them to be able to add that as well. Me being a defensive lineman that never hurts at all.”

Henry said he also has a great relationship with area recruiter Danny Pearman.

“Coach Pearman is something else. I’m not even going to sugarcoat it, that man is crazy,” Henry said. “I love it and he keeps it real with me. He has a good relationship with my Dad, good relationship with me; I kind of had to break his heart. These guys also offered me at tight end, but I told him that I thought I would stay on the defensive side and he said that was fine and that he just wants me to be a part of the program. I really liked hearing that from him. Getting to talk to Coach Pearman every once in a while is awesome.”

Henry is not only a terror on the gridiron, but he's also a terror on the hardwood and recently scored his 1000th point for West Forsyth.

“I have loved it ever since I was a little kid,” he said. “Basketball is definitely one of my favorite sports. Getting that accomplishment was second to none and one of the biggest ones I have had in my high school career.”


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