The University of Delaware has landed another Delaware high school football recruit, and this time it’s a quarterback.
Smyrna QB Nolan Henderson, a first-team All-State selection as a junior last season, confirmed on Wednesday that he has committed to the Blue Hens.
“I knew from the first time I visited there that’s where I wanted to go,” Henderson told The News Journal. “I visited a few schools after that just to make sure that’s where I wanted to be. In the end, it was just the best fit.”
Henderson also visited Delaware’s Colonial Athletic Association rivals William & Mary, New Hampshire, Albany and Stony Brook, along with Monmouth and Old Dominion. But the personal recruiting touch of UD head coach Dave Brock paid off.
“He’s a great guy. He’s a guy I want to play for,” Henderson said of Brock. “It just felt like home there. They welcomed me, and I just believe in the direction they’re going.”
The Hens have signed some of Delaware’s top high school players the last three years under Brock, including Hodgson defensive lineman Bilal Nichols and defensive back Ray Jones, William Penn wide receiver Chichi Amachi, Caravel defensive lineman Lloyd Badson and St. Georges defensive linemen Stefon Woodruff.
One of the biggest signings came last February when Salesianum linebacker Colby Reeder — the state’s Defensive Player of the Year — turned down larger colleges to go to Delaware. At the same time his older brother Troy, another Sallies linebacker and former Defensive Player of the Year, transferred from Penn State to join Colby at UD.
Now they will be joined in two years by Henderson, a 6-foot-1, 170-pounder who completed 179 of 268 passes for 3,297 yards and 36 touchdowns with only nine interceptions last season. He also rushed 54 times for 416 yards and four scores in leading Smyrna to a 12-1 season and the school’s first DIAA Division I football championship.
“I had a few contacts on the team with Chichi Amachi, Ray Jones. My dad talked to Colby’s father,” Henderson said. “We’ve been contacting them, asking them questions, and that was definitely a big part.”
Smyrna coach Mike Judy said Brock’s focus on the First State has been pleasing to see among local high school coaches.
“Coach Brock personally recruits Delaware,” Judy said. “He comes to the schools, and he hits the road, and he doesn’t skip a school. He’s early and often. He has been an open communicator the whole time. I really admire that about him.”
Judy also admires Henderson’s toughness and calm demeanor.
“Off the field, he’s just like he is on the field,” Judy said of the quarterback. “You just can’t get in his head. He’s cool and calm, and he’s just got that thing.
“I’m happy for him. I’m really glad he was able to take a visit and make sure it was the right fit for him academically and athletically. We couldn’t be more proud of him.”
NCAA rules prohibit Brock from speaking about recruits until they are signed. But Henderson is expected to become the first Delaware high school quarterback to be signed by the Blue Hens since Newark’s Eric Spiese in 2002. The last Delawarean to start at QB for UD was Caesar Rodney’s Sam Postlethwait in 2001, and the last Blue Hen football letterman from Smyrna High was offensive lineman Matt Hesseltine in 2007.
“Coach Brock and the University of Delaware landed themselves a great football player, and a tremendous kid,” Judy said. “He’ll let you coach him up. He’ll do anything you want him to do.”
Kevin Tresolini contributed to this article. Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.
UD QUARTERBACK LETTERMEN WHO PLAYED AT DELAWARE HIGH SCHOOLS
Michael Fidance (1914-16 – high school unknown, but from Wilmington)
Dale Fry (1991-93 – Middletown HS)
Dutch Hoffman (1980 – Newark HS)
Walter Josephs (1905-07 – high school unknown, but from Smyrna)
Ted Kempski (1961-62 – Salesianum HS)
Matt Lapinski (1991 – Brandywine HS)
Rob Myers (1996 – Lake Forest HS)
John O’Daniel (1914 – high school unknown, but from Newark)
Sam Postlethwait (1998-2001 – Caesar Rodney HS)
Scotty Reihm (1971-73 – Middletown HS)
Rick Scully (1979-82 – Christiana HS)
Bill Shockley (1950 – P.S. du Pont HS)
Source: Scott Selheimer, University of Delaware Assistant Athletic Director/Media Relations