By Loyd McIntosh, Sports Editor
LEEDS — Leeds’ junior defensive lineman Kavion Henderson announced his intentions to play college football at the University of Arkansas during a ceremony at Leeds High School on Sunday, Oct. 6.
Beginning at 3 p.m., in the Leeds High School gymnasium, the ceremony featured short talks by Green Wave Head Coach Jerry Hood, Principal Rayford Williams, and Defensive Line Coach Curtis Coleman. Following 10 minutes of remarks, Kavion chose the Arkansas hat from an array of caps lined up in front of him to make it official — Henderson is Arkansas-bound.
Surrounded by family, Henderson chose the Razorbacks over more than 40 other universities, including SEC heavyweights Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Oklahoma. Henderson cited the Arkansas coaching staff, especially Head Coach Sam Pittman, as the reason he chose the Razorbacks over several high-profile programs, including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Oklahoma.
In the end, the 6-3, 235-pound lineman received more scholarship offers than any player in Leeds High School history. One would assume his decision was a tough one. However, Henderson credited the Arkansas coaching staff, his family, his teammates, and his faith in God for helping to make his commitment easy.
“The great relationship with the coaches — they did a great job recruiting me,” Henderson said. “I’m looking to turn things around at Arkansas, and I’m really excited for it. It was an easy decision. I just want to thank God first, my family, my coaches, and all my teachers. They got this put together for me. So without them, it wouldn’t be possible.”
Hood said he’s known for some time that Henderson was going to commit to Arkansas and said he’s glad he decided to make his choice public and can focus on the Green Wave’s second-round playoff game against Scottsboro on Friday, Nov. 11. Hood said he also warned Henderson that college recruiters will continue to try to change his mind right up until signing day on Feb. 1, 2023.
“I had known it for quite a while,” Hood said. “Coach Pittman and I have gotten to talk, and they’re excited to have him. For whatever reason, he’s got a great feeling about the coaches there. I’m excited for him in one regard, in that it gets it out there, but in the second regard, I told him it’s not going to stop. It’ll intensify.
“I’m glad he did it on a Sunday so that by eight or nine o’clock when he goes to bed, and he starts winding down, it’s all about Scottsboro and how far we can take this thing at Leeds,” Hood added.
Henderson first caught Hood’s eye shortly after accepting the job as the Leeds Head Coach. He knew right away Henderson was going to be a special player.
“We went out on the field one day in the summer and we were practicing with the varsity, all 28 us,” Hood explained to the group of friends and family in attendance. “Then, I see this kid on the other end of the field, that big ol’ kid, he’s an 8th grader. And so I told him that day, ‘You are not on the middle school team anymore. You’re on the varsity team.’”
Hood went on to say that what makes Henderson a special talent is more than just his skills on the field. Henderson, Hood said, is a leader who cares about excelling in football and in the classroom.
“Here’s the truth about this young man,” Hood said. “When your best player is your hardest worker, can take a butt-chewing from the coaches in the right way, lead in the weight room, and takes pride in what he does in the classroom, you’ve got an opportunity to make a real difference in the world.”
The undefeated Leeds Green Wave hosts the Scottsboro Wildcats, 7-4, on Friday, Nov. 11, at Homer Smiles Stadium.