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Seantrel: USC or UFA?

No signed letter of intent yet from high school offensive lineman. Dave Miller

Print This February 10, 2010, 11:25 AM EST

He’s one of the biggest free agents on the market.

Every major team is after his services.

He’s considered a ready-made difference-maker, a building block on the left side of the line for years to come.

And he just recently turned 18 years of age.

Yes, fans, the entire college football nation is going gaga over a high school football player.

And his name is Seantrel Henderson. Apparently he’s supposed to be so good that not even USC can snag him up without any complications.

In case you thought Henderson was signed, sealed and delivered to play for the Trojans, it appears that the 6-8, 301-pound USA Today 2009 Offensive Player of the Year from St. Paul Cretin-Derham Hall is actually back on the open market. Henderson has told USC officials that he will not officially sign with the school until an announcement is made in regards to potential NCAA penalties against the team for its recruitment of former star running back Reggie Bush.

Considered the best offensive lineman coming out of high school and ready to start at left tackle for a major program right now, Henderson knows that he has all the leverage in the recruitment process.

The lineman discussed his situation with KSTP-TV in his hometown of St. Paul on Sunday evening. When asked if his commitment to the Trojans could be altered if sanctions were applied to the program, Henderson said, “Yeah, I think it would. But at the same time, I would have to talk to the coaches to see exactly what’s going on and exactly what’s going to happen and then base my decision upon what’s going to be going on. Because that’s the school I would like to go to, but then at the same time I just can’t walk into anything that’s going to make my future not as good as it could be.”

Certainly, representatives of schools such as Miami (FLA), Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Minnesota — programs on Henderson’s list of potential destinations — are salivating at the thought of Henderson backing out of his commitment to ‘SC.

Officials from USC will meet with an NCAA infractions committee on February 19 to discuss allegations that Bush, a current New Orleans Saint, accepted money, a vehicle and free housing from businessmen who thought they would profit from the running back once he became a pro.

The major dilemma here for Henderson, USC and any other school desirous of the lineman’s services is that the extent of any penalty assessed against the Los Angeles school may not be known for months. Would Henderson be willing to drag his feet on a decision until perhaps the summer months? Well, that’s really not an option as the last day to sign a letter of intent is April 1.

Sean Henderson, Seantrel’s father, has made it clear that leverage will not be lost on their end of this issue. “At the end of the day it’s still a business and at the end of the day it’s still my son’s future,” he said. “I’d rather be able to at least let him keep his options open, because if things aren’t looking good come [February 20 or 21] or whatever, then we might have to move in a different direction, but it’s only for the sake of his future.”

In most cases, decisions stemming from NCAA hearings are announced six to eight weeks after the committee meets with the school. The Henderson’s aren’t naïve, and they very likely knew all along that a letter of intent would need to be signed with someone before knowing the full fallout at USC. Even if the sanctions against the Trojans aren’t horribly restrictive, will it be too late to keep Henderson on board?

Clearly, there’s never a dull day in sunny L.A. — especially when you’re dealing with a patient, big-name free agent.

If worse comes to worse and the Trojans do lose Henderson, at least they have a 13-year-old quarterback in the fold — for the 2015 season.

Follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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