GLENVILLE - Whether or not this is the final season of football for Glenville State College senior defensive end Gary Henderson remains to be seen, but the 6-foot-3, 233-pound Coffeyville Community College graduate definitely has a bright future ahead of him.
Selected by USA College Football as a preseason second team All-American, Henderson already owns an associate degree from CCC in health, physical education and recreation.
"I've been putting that to use every summer when I go home and give back to kids," said the St. Louis native, who works at camps to teach kids things other than just the proper fundamentals of football.
"I try to help them with school and tell them things about life. It's where you are going to, not where you are from."
Henderson, who led the Pioneers with 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as a junior, carries a 3.3 GPA and will graduate with a double major in sports management and business management.
Despite Glenville going through a 6-5 campaign last year, Henderson is ready to try and help his teammates make a run at the Mountain East Conference championship. That all starts come 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, when the G-men visit Concord for the season opener.
"We are all in this together and everybody we have here I feel strong about," Henderson said. "Only time will tell once we start playing. We're taking it day-by-day and just moving on up to that first game."
The admitted undersized defensive end tied for second on the squad last year with 69 total tackles. He also picked off two passes, forced two fumbles, recovered one and broke up five passes.
"I am undersized compared to a lot of defensive players, but I like using my speed," Henderson added. "I try to be the best leader I can on the field, giving the young guys knowledge that I got. You can never learn too much so I try to learn as much as I can."
Henderson almost didn't make it to college at all, but was able to turn things around with his grades once he got to CCC, where he walked on to play football. Since then, things have turned out well for him.
"It was a long road to get here," Henderson added. "I had a few offers and Glenville was the best choice for me and I accepted the offer. Glenville is not like the city of St. Louis, but it's beautiful and the community is nice.
"I like when the community comes to support us and we give it back with football camps or cleaning up the community or whatever we can do to give back."
Like any player who competes on the collegiate gridiron, Henderson is hopeful for a shot at the next level. However, there is plenty of other business to attend to first.
"I'm worried about now and today," he said. "Take it day by day and only time will tell what the good Lord has planned for me.
"I'll just take this season, play this out and give it my best for my teammates and time will tell where I go after that."