May 14, 2013

Incoming Freshman Report: Brad Henson

In 1998, the state of North Carolina sent a baseball team to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

While that team had hopes of bringing home a championship to the Tar Heel state, they were eventually thwarted by a team from Toms River, New Jersey. The Garden State representatives went on to win the entire thing, defeating Japan in the international final.

The state of New Jersey won't be giving North Carolina its Little League title anytime soon, but they will be sending 6-5, 275-pound Toms River native, Brad Henson, down I-95 as he is just a few short weeks away from being one of the newest members of the UNC football team.

While he will soon be protecting the athletic talents of Tar Heel quarterbacks in due time, this past Sunday Henson was doing what any good son should be doing: seeing that his Mom and Grandmother were taken care of on Mother's Day.

"I did a lot of yard work," said Henson when asked how he made the matriarchs of his family feel like royalty. "For her and my grandma. It was a little different kind of gift this year."

Henson and his family are ready to get the next chapter of his life off the ground and are eagerly anticipating the changes yet to come.

"I'm excited to get out there and be my own man and start playing football at a very high level. My family is excited as well. I think their ready for me to go and their excited for the years to come. They know it's going to be challenging but they know it's going to be great for me in the long term," said Henson. "I'm going to learn a lot about life these next four years and their excited to watch me play football as well. So I'd say as a whole we're all pretty excited. I'm pretty anxious. I'm ready to get down there and start working."

So why is Henson in such a rush to get to UNC?

From his vantage point, there isn't much in the way of faults when it comes to Chapel Hill.

A plethora of reasons went into making UNC the perfect fit for him.

"It was just a combination of things. I think the biggest thing from a football stand point was how I connected with Coach Larry Fedora, Coach Chris Kapilovic and the rest of the coaching staff and the players," said Henson. "I could just see myself fitting in there. Coach Fedora is a winning coach. I know we're going to win the ACC Championship while I'm there and I want to be a part of it. Coach Kap is just a great coach and I connect well with him and the players, I can see myself fitting in well there."

Most student-athletes will tell you that getting a well-rounded experience is high on the list of important deciding factors when trying to choose the right school.

But Henson took it one step further when narrowing down his list before eventually choosing the Tar Heels.

"From an academic standpoint, UNC is second to none, you know, internationally. It's one of the best schools in the world. You can get a world-class education there and play football. The campus is beautiful," said Henson. "I tried to look at the campus and the academic situation from the point of view as if I wasn't playing football. Where would I want to be? UNC definitely fit that mold. It just had everything I was looking for in a school."

Henson's ability to step away from the gridiron and look at the world from the viewpoint of a non-student athlete is also evident in his due process while deciding on a major.

At this point, Henson's not quite sure what he'll choose to study at UNC, but that doesn't mean he hasn't given himself options.

"I'm either going to go into business or something along the pre-dental route. There two very different majors but in this first year I'm definitely going to do a lot of researching to find out what best suits me."

Even though Henson is taking his time while deciding his academic future, he took next to no time in letting the UNC coaching staff he was committed to being a member of the Tar Heel program.

Henson was the first 2013 signee to fax in his letter of intent, something that was not an accident.

"I didn't want to be the first one to send it in, but I did want to let them know how serious I was and just kind of get it over with," said Henson. "I got up early and made sure I got it in right away."
So how early does one have to get up to accomplish such a feat?

"6:45 a.m.," said Henson.

"Just so I wasn't half-asleep when I was doing it so I was kind of aware. I think I waited until 7:01 a.m. to make sure it was a little bit past the right time so there weren't any problems. It was just a good feeling and I was excited about it," Henson added. "It was one of those moments where I knew all of my hard work had gotten me to that point. It was a humbling experience. It really is a blessing."

So what is Henson currently working on to make sure he'll be ready to go when he gets on the collegiate field for the first time and what kind of player can UNC expect when he arrives?

"You can always improve everything. I think my speed is the biggest thing, just being able to maintain my quickness. I'm also going to try and put on size," said Henson. "I'm at the point now where I'm at the size I want to play at so really just working to maintain my quickness and always strength and flexibility. I'm getting ready for the spread offense because I know it's fast-paced."

"They're going to get a guy that will work very hard. Give a hundred percent at all times. They're going to get a guy that leads by example and a guy that's intense."

Spend ten minutes on the phone with Henson and you'll feel the enthusiasm he has for UNC oozing through the ear piece.

If it was up to him, he wouldn't have to wait to strap on the pads.

"I'm excited," said Henson. "I'd go down there now if I could."

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