The leap from college to the NFL can be a big one for many NFL rookies – especially for those coming from smaller schools and conferences. It’s a similar leap for players who go from small home towns to Division I football. Such was the case for Broncos rookie running back De’Angelo Henderson, who had “a lotta’ trees, couple dirt roads,” in his country setting of Summerville, S.C.
Henderson is a sixth-round draft pick out of Coastal Carolina, a Division I school from the Sun Belt Conference. His college football stadium had a capacity less than 1/10th of that of his new teammate Jake Butt of Michigan. While Henderson doesn’t think that the emotional leap to now playing in front of 75,000 screaming NFL fans will be that great, he did have a moment of pause during rookie orientation with fellow draft pick DeMarcus Walker, the second-round defensive end out of Florida State.
“Actually [I] was joking around yesterday with DeMarcus about the highest amount of crowd I think I played in front of at Coastal [Carolina] was like 11 or 12,000,” Henderson said. “And that was like, ‘Really?’ And then [special teams] Coach Brock [Olivo] was like, ‘There’s going to be like 75 [thousand] come preseason.’ So I was like, ‘Whoooo!'”
In context, Henderson’s hometown of Summerville has a population of just over 50,000. Henderson joked with Goodman and Shapiro that his town has “a few” stoplights, and that WalMart is about a 20-minute drive from his home.
Now he’ll potentially be playing on national television in front of millions of Americans, and playing alongside some of the biggest names in the NFL.
“Definitely a ‘wow’ moment,” Henderson said with a little laugh when asked about the players he’ll be suiting up alongside. “You’re talking about some of the top guys in the league. Guy’s that have been All-Pros, guys that have made Pro Bowls, Von Miller who was a Super Bowl MVP a couple years ago. So, definitely look at those guys as, like, ‘Okay, I really get a chance to become a better player training with those guys and working with those guys.”
As for how he feels his first round of training during rookie minicamp went, Henderson sounded confident about his progression thus far.
“It goes fast. They’re going to explain things to you,” he said about his new coaches. “They’re going to help you understand it, and it’s on you to be a professional. If you don’t understand it, let them know. And if you do, let’s get it and keep moving forward and learn as much as we can.”
Catch the full interview with Henderson, including his thoughts on being in the same meeting room with Jamaal Charles, in the podcast below.
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