E.J. Henderson

Eric “E.J.” Henderson played on both sides of the ball at Aberdeen High School in Maryland. Henderson started at middle linebacker and running back during his recruitment, and was named a USA Today honorable mention All-American as well as Harford County Male Athlete of the Year as a senior. That season he recorded 148 tackles to along with 1,127 yards rushing and 15 rushing touchdowns.

Henderson chose to play college football at the University of Maryland. While at Maryland, he set three NCAA records: 12.5 career tackles per game, 135 unassisted tackles in a season, and 8.8 unassisted tackles per game. In his junior and senior seasons, he was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a consensus first-team All-American. He received the Chuck Bednarik Award as a senior, finishing the season with 175 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, four pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. As a Terrapin, Henderson totaled 473 tackles, 17.5 sacks, and 62.5 tackles for loss.

Henderson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round (40th overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft. A Pro-Bowler in 2010, he had 752 tackles, 15.5 sacks, five interceptions, and 12 forced fumbles in 105 games with the Vikings. In 2009, Henderson suffered a violent, season-ending injury when he broke his femur in Week 13 against the Arizona Cardinals. He made a courageous recovery and was voted to the Pro Bowl the following season. In 2011, he was unable to find a suitable contract offer and retired from football. He now works with non-profits fighting childhood obesity in Minneapolis.

Award Profile

Winner: Chuck Bednarik Award - 2002

University of Maryland