- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
Cleveland Glenville defensive tackle Willie Henry has eight offers already, but he is still waiting for the one just about every Ohio native hopes for.
“I’m waiting right now for Ohio State to offer,” Henry said. “They said they’re close, but they want to take a closer look. Hopefully they will offer in the next few weeks.”
At 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, Henry said the Buckeyes staff likes his energy and versatility across the defensive line. At Ohio State’s camp during the summer, Henry was awarded the defensive line co-MVP with teammate Alex Pace.
Henry visited Ohio State for its games against Toledo and Wisconsin this year, both of which were late come-from-behind wins for the Buckeyes. The Wisconsin atmosphere really made an impression on Henry.
“It felt good being in the stands watching all those people cheer for one football team. It’s electrifying,” Henry said.
Following the game, Henry had an opportunity to talk with defensive coordinator Jim Heacock and coach Taver Johnson, who has been the lead recruiter. He spoke with them in October, too, when they both visited Glenville.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss are both recruiting Henry, too, though neither have offered. Henry is keeping an eye on the Ole Miss coaching situation after Houston Nutt announced he will resign at the end of the season.
Henry has a better relationship with the Bulldogs’ coaching staff and said he talks to defensive coordinator and line coach Chris Wilson about once a week.
“He’s said he’s planning on coming up here to see some highlights and come to the school and see how I’m doing,” Henry said. “He’s talking about [visiting for] the Ole Miss game.”
Henry and his teammate Pace camped at Mississippi State during the summer, but Henry said the coaches relayed to him that they want to see him in pads before extending an offer because he is so far out of the Bulldogs’ recruiting radius.
One sleeper team that has come out of nowhere to compete for Henry is Hawaii – or “Paradise” as Henry’s main recruiter, Tony Tuioti, calls it.
“[Tuioti] hasn’t come up to visit me and Alex, but he said he can’t wait to get us down on a visit, down to Paradise. That’s what he likes to call it,” Henry said. “He always says, ‘They’re gonna love your smile in paradise.’”
Hawaii is obviously a complete 180-degree switch from Cleveland and more than 4,500 miles away, but Henry, who hasn’t decided on official visits yet, said he can see himself leaving home and playing at Hawaii.
“It’s something different, and I wouldn’t have to worry about this weather in Cleveland,” he joked. “I can get down there and relax. It’s something different for me to grow as a man and get out in this world and do something different.”
With Glenville’s season over, Henry said he is preparing to play basketball in the winter. It will be Henry’s third season on the team, though he said he isn’t the best player but is a “rebounding connoisseur.” Henry is playing mostly to tone up and maintain his weight of 270 pounds, which he said colleges would like him to come in at.
449dTom Luginbill and Craig Haubert