Around this time last year, Ashton Henderson (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Iowa Western Community College) was focused on finding an FBS program that suited him. Although he didn't play FBS ball as a college freshman, the former Jenks (Okla.) High School standout is excited to say he's focused on playing for a national championship in two weeks.
Henderson is a contributor on the defensive line for the nation’s top-ranked junior college team. Iowa Western will play No. 2 Butler Community College (El Dorado, Kan.) in the NJCAA Football Championship Game at the University of Northern Iowa on Dec. 2.
Following that game, Henderson will answer one question: One more year of juco or an immediate FBS football career? Henderson was an academic qualifier out of high school and he is eligible to make the FBS jump after his freshman year at Iowa Western.
“I had a verbal offer from LSU, but the big question was if I was going to qualify,” said Henderson, a 6-foot-1, 320-pound defensive tackle. “After I qualified late, I went ahead and signed with Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but I got out of the offer by going to juco.
“I’ve matured a lot with my decisions and movements. I’ve gotten somewhat stronger, too. Playing [at Iowa Western] has been a good experience. I’m playing at one of the top jucos, so I’m learning a lot. You play with the best of the best at this level.”
Henderson isn’t a starter at Iowa Western, but he sees valuable minutes in each game -- enough minutes to attract offers from two FBS programs. Henderson, being a full qualifier, has offers from Old Dominion and Wyoming. Old Dominion will play as an FBS football independent in 2013, then transition to Conference USA in 2015.
Henderson said both programs have their positives, and he is planning on taking official visits to both schools. A Wyoming visit already has been set for Dec. 7.
“Old Dominion is in Virginia, so it’s far away from home. It’s something different for me,” Henderson said. “The fact is that they’re going D-1 next year. They’ve been a nice, little program as a [FCS] school.
“With Wyoming, I’m a country boy as is. Horses and horseback riding run in my blood. Going there would be like coming home. It pretty much would be a great experience.”
Henderson additionally is receiving interest from Indiana.