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Skyview’s Henderson is Hawaiian Signing

Football standout Henderson heading to play for Warriors

By , Columbian High School Sports Reporter
3 Photos
Skyview football player, Ellis Henderson, shown, Tuesday, February 1, 2011, is expected to sign with the University of Hawaii.
Skyview football player, Ellis Henderson, shown, Tuesday, February 1, 2011, is expected to sign with the University of Hawaii. (Steven Lane/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Ellis Henderson wants to swim with the animals.

If he happens to score a bunch of touchdowns while studying marine biology, all the better.

Henderson, the wide receiver with the soft hands and returner with the after-burner speed from Skyview High School, is all set to sign his letter of intent today to play football for the University of Hawaii.

And talk to the animals.

“I used to watch Jack Hanna all the time,” Henderson said, referring to the iconic zoologist whose media appearances have made him and his favorite critters famous. “My mom ran a day care. She always put on educational videos. Even before football was a choice, I wanted to go somewhere where I could study animals.”

His many trips to the Oregon Coast to surf and body board while growing up helped him focus on the marine life.

“I thought I would combine the two, make it the best of both worlds,” he said of his intended major.

Just so happens Paradise offers marine biology.

“I’ve been to Hawaii three times. I just love it down there,” Henderson said. “And when I actually got down there for football, the way they treated me was amazing. A light would go on, or a spark, that would say this is where I was meant to be. I’m laid back, and the culture is pretty laid back. The coaches would ask me how my life was, not just football. I liked that.”

Still, it’s football that will pay for college.

Henderson, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, said he will have several opportunities to shine as Division I athlete.

He said he is signing as a receiver and a returner, but the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League’s defensive player of the year might play defensive back for Hawaii, as well. Henderson said even baseball is not out of the question.

“Everything I’ve been doing, I can continue to do, which is pretty cool,” he said.

The wait might not be too long, either. Henderson said no coach has talked to him about redshirting his first year in school.

“The reason they want me to play (slot receiver) is they’re really thin at that position,” Henderson said. “I’ll have an opportunity to play right away.”

Henderson was one of the rare athletes who were singled out by opposing defensive coordinators in high school. Opponents always had to know where he was lining up, always had to be aware of his presence.

With so much defensive attention on Henderson, other players found more room to run. Skyview averaged 38 points per game, won the 4A GSHL title, and made to the state playoffs.

And even against defenses specifically designed to stop him, Henderson scored 10 touchdowns in 10 games — receiving, rushing, and returning.

Signing day will officially end the recruitment of Henderson, who said the process became easier to manage once he took advice from his parents.

Ellis Henderson said he was disappointed when a scholarship from one of the first programs to contact him — a Pac-10 school — did not materialize.

But his parents, Ron Henderson and Maggie Mohammadi, reminded Ellis that it is a privilege to be a Division I football recruit and to relish the experience.

“I realized it’s not something that happens all the time,” Henderson said. “My parents said not to stress about it so much. Enjoy it. It only happens once in a lifetime. It was a little stressful at times, but I just had fun with it.”

Before he told Hawaii yes, Henderson said he had seven confirmed offers from Division I schools.

Barring any change of heart and mind in the next few hours, Ellis Henderson can focus on football and studies at Hawaii and life beyond college.

He was asked if he would rather have a one-year career in the NFL or a 30-year career in marine biology.

For an athlete as superb as Henderson, that’s not an easy question to answer. He took his time before remembering his mom and dad.

“My parents have always been academics first, academics first,” he said. “Just because of my parents drilling it into my head, I’m gonna go with a 30-year career.”

Fortunately, there is a chance for both.

Ellis Henderson started playing football in the eight grade. His ambition of working with animals started when he was much younger.

“That’s what makes this so great,” Henderson said. “It’s two dreams coming true.”

Columbian High School Sports Reporter