Central Catholic lineman Bralen Henderson ‘grinds’ path to Ohio commitment

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 9:18 PM

In a normal recruiting year, Bralen Henderson would’ve visited with the dozens of college football coaches who arrive at Central Catholic looking for future players.

He would have gone to football camps and visited college campuses in person.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get any of that,” said Henderson, a 6-foot-3 defensive lineman who understands well the challenges under-recruited seniors faced in the past 12 months.

“I kind of had to grind by myself and grind on my own during covid,” he said. “The best way that I could show I was college worthy was during the season.”

Undeterred, his recruiting journey ended Monday by announcing he officially signed with Ohio University. He turned in his paperwork last week, but coaches agreed to keep it quiet until he shared the news.

He announced his decision on Twitter.

Playing football for Ohio coach Frank Solich lured Henderson to Athens, but so did the school’s biomedical engineering program, his future major. Ultimately, he chose Ohio over offers from Navy, Princeton, Villanova, Lehigh and Lafayette.

“Coach Solich and Coach (Tremayne) Scott, my position coach, are great guys,” Henderson said. “They kind of showed me what Ohio football is all about and gave me a lot of love. That was big, and the education, as well. … They have a really good biomedical (program) because they’re a nursing-heavy school.”

Solich, who has coached 16 seasons at Ohio, led Nebraska to the national championship game in 2001.

Henderson held no Division I offers Aug. 1 but added more than a dozen in a season that earned him all-conference and all-state honors, along with Trib 25 recognition. Central Catholic won the WPIAL Class 6A title.

Coaches and former teammates urged him to stay patient.

“A lot of them were saying, ‘Hey, once you guys finish up your season and college football is starting to wind down a little bit, they’ll be able to look at their situation and see if they can give you a scholarship,’ ” he said.

Twelve offers arrived after Dec. 1. That included Ohio, which offered him a scholarship Jan. 13.

Ohio’s season was limited to three games this past fall. The team went 2-1. A year ago, the Bobcats went 7-6 and faced Nevada in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise.

Henderson, a two-way player for Central Catholic, expects Ohio to use him on defense. The team uses a four-man defensive front, which suits Henderson’s abilities well.

“I feel like I could fit in any defensive scheme, but I do like a 4-3,” he said. “There’s a lot of opportunity in a 4-3. This year, I played everywhere (along the line) from the zero to the nine. Having four down linemen, that’s kind of what I’m most comfortable in. That’s what I’m used to.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.


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