Recruiting notebook: Notre Dame cornerback target Ramon Henderson nearing a decision

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Growing up as an only child in a single-parent home required Ramon Henderson to take care of himself at times.

Henderson’s mother instilled in him the value of responsibility. As early as 6 years old, he began doing household chores, including laundry.

“I was raised to be independent,” said Henderson, a cornerback recruit in the 2020 class. “That’s what I’m most grateful for. She taught me how to do a lot of stuff. I’m not a dependent person. I would rather work with myself than rely on someone.”

Which is why Henderson can envision himself moving across the country to Notre Dame after graduating a semester early from Liberty High in Bakersfield, Calif. Getting to that point with Henderson, though, called for Notre Dame to prove its intentions.

After whiffing on a few other top 2020 cornerback targets, the Irish offered scholarships to 11 defensive backs in nearly one month. That includes Henderson (May 24), who landed his offer after cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght watched his track practice.

“I know that we all have stuff to do,” Henderson said. “We shouldn’t be talking every day. But if you are talking to me and I have a good relationship with you — there are so many people I have relationships with.

“I’m an only child, so relationships are something big to me. If you can’t talk to me now or over the phone, and then I see you in person and that (withdrawal) is even higher, then bro, I can’t even consider you guys.”

That’s not how Henderson’s Sept. 27-29 official visit for Notre Dame’s home game against Virginia played out.

Special teams coordinator Brian Polian, the Irish coach heading Henderson’s recruitment, had spent months forging a relationship with him over the phone.

“I finally got to meet him outside talking on the phone,” Henderson said of his visit, “and the first thing he does is introduce me to his wife and kids? There’s obviously some type of comfort level there. The hospitality was awesome.”

Polian then visited Henderson’s high school during Notre Dame’s bye week, on Oct. 15, to watch him at football practice. Their ensuing conversations consisted of Polian informing Henderson that the Irish were holding a spot for him in a class tight on numbers (17 commits).

The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Henderson would become Notre Dame’s fourth cornerback pledge this cycle, joining Clarence Lewis, Landen Bartleson and Caleb Offord. 247Sports places Henderson in higher regard than all three of them as a four-star athlete ranking No. 11 at the position and No. 262 overall in the class. Rivals rates Henderson, a two-way high school player, as a three-star wide receiver.

“The moment they got on me,” said Henderson of Notre Dame, “they never took a step off. They’ve always been there from the jump.”

Washington, Utah and UCLA are other schools Henderson is considering. Reports surfaced that Henderson may take an official visit to Tennessee this weekend. He told the Tribune that he doubts that trip will happen. A Dec. 6-8 official visit to UCLA may still be in the works, however. He also took a mid-November official visit to Utah.

A non-public pledge, known as a silent commitment in the recruiting world, had initially been Henderson’s intention before signing. There is no indication that he’s made a silent commitment to Notre Dame at this stage. That’s why a visit to UCLA remains a possibility.

The Irish are considered the favorite to land Henderson. He hopes to make his decision public from Liberty High’s theater during the three-day early signing period (Dec. 18-20).

Henderson’s initial unfamiliarity with Notre Dame, the distance, the stark contrast in weather— those factors seem trivial to him now.

“They’re always talking to my coaches and always talking to me,” Henderson said. “When I went out there, it was a fun. I liked the school. They have so much to offer for football and academically. That place is a really good place.

“Any person that has an opportunity like that to go there, that’s a really big deal. It’s truly a blessing.”

Playoff season

New Canaan (Conn.) High quarterback Drew Pyne is Notre Dame’s only commit still playing in the regular season. Pyne starts playoffs in the second week of December. The following 10 pledges are also still competing, but in playoff action this week.

2020 commits: running back Chris Tyree (Virginia High School League Class 6 quarterfinals), wide receiver Jordan Johnson (Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 6 championship), tight end Michael Mayer (Kentucky High School Athletic Association Class 5A semifinals), cornerback Landen Bartleson (KHSAA Class 4A semifinals), cornerback Clarence Lewis (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Non-Public Group 3 championship) and defensive end Jordan Botelho (Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I Open championship).

2021 commits: quarterback Tyler Buchner (California Interscholastic Federation San Diego Section Division II championship), receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr. (Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I semifinals), receiver Deion Colzie (Georgia High School Association Class A Private quarterfinals) and tight end Cane Berrong (GHSA Class 3A quarterfinals).

Early enrollee update

Four-star tight end commit Michael Mayer confirmed with the Tribune that he will not enroll early at Notre Dame as previously planned. Irish Illustrated first reported the news.

Graduating a semester early and coming to South Bend in January was too quick of a turnaround, Mayer said. He plans to play basketball for Park Hills (Ky.) Covington Catholic in the spring. Mayer will also compete at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 4.

The following Irish pledges will still enroll early: cornerbacks Caleb Offord and Landen Bartleson, defensive linemen Rylie Mills, Jordan Botelho and Alexander Ehrensberger, quarterback Drew Pyne and wide receivers Xavier Watts and Jay Brunelle.

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Notre Dame cornerback target Ramon Henderson plans to announce his decision during the early signing period (Dec. 18-20).