Film Study: Notre Dame freshman CB Ramon Henderson

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

CB Ramon Henderson, 6-2, 180; Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty

The numbers: Henderson caught 29 passes for 581 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games as a senior. He also recorded 12 tackles, one tackle for a loss, nine pass breakups and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Patriots (10-2) ended their season with a 27-0 loss to Clovis (Calif.) Buchanan in the Central Section California Interscholastic Federation Division I semifinals. Henderson enrolled a semester early in January and will begin his career at cornerback.

The rankings: 247Sports — Four stars, No. 11 ATH, No. 266 overall. Rivals — Three stars.


TFC film link here.

UHR film link here.

First impression: No Notre Dame signee this 2020 class may have more of a perplexing outlook than Henderson. His impressive ball skills and 100-meter dash time of 10.59 seconds as a junior — which tops Irish speedster Braden Lenzy’s best high school time of 10.62 — makes his potential intriguing. But he’s an unusual athlete and difficult to project. Henderson’s raw corner technique, abnormally long strides and cloudy position projection lowers his floor.

Strengths: Henderson substantially improved as a corner after his junior year. His makeup speed helps him recover well when losing at the line of scrimmage. He also flashes an impressive ability to anticipate and track the ball in the air and take the appropriate angle to make a play — almost like a center fielder. Henderson's hands and concentration are his best attributes. His tremendous vertical leap and overall athleticism makes him effective when in position for those jump balls on offense and defense. Henderson looks natural as a special teams returner. He has solid vision, hits the correct holes and weaves well in traffic. 

Proof of prowess: (TFC 1:55): Henderson initially lost his one-on-one matchup with this outside receiver. He jabbed toward the receiver after the snap, leaving him off-balanced as the receiver released outside. Henderson flipped his hips the wrong direction — inward — but recovered even when the receiver darted back to the goal line. He adjusted and launched himself toward the back of the end zone once the quarterback attempted a pass to the next-closest receiver. Though he’s not the most brawny player, Henderson can create quite the thud by using his speed and momentum like on this incomplete pass. He's not afraid of contact.

(UHR 1:04): There are several impressive jump ball catches on Henderson’s highlight tape. This one might be the best. The defensive back obtained the advantage from a momentum standpoint and appeared to get a hand on the football. The throw required Henderson to turn his body around and leap backward. Henderson hauled in the pass despite colliding with the defensive back at an awkward angle. The catch also called for Henderson to maintain possession of the football while crashing to the ground. His athleticism, hands and concentration are on full display here. Here are a few of Henderson’s other 50-50 catches: TFC 0:20, TFC 1:46, TFC 2:05.

(UHR 1:31): Liberty’s quarterback didn’t target Henderson on this pass. He’s not even looking his direction. Yet there Henderson was to make the play. Henderson needed to cover about 30 yards— combined vertically and laterally — after the quarterback released the football. He appears to reach top speed but is still able to judge the ball. By not extending his arms for the catch until the last possible moment, Henderson’s able to take the precise angle and make up a lot of ground.

Competition level: Because the Patriots don’t regularly square off against any of the Los Angeles powerhouses, they face average competition on a national scale. Liberty played only two recruits out of the 2020 and 2021 classes ranked among 247Sports’ top 247 overall players in California this season: Buchanan running back Kendall Milton (Georgia) and cornerback CJ Jones (Fresno State). The three-star Jones covered Henderson at times and ranks as 247Sports’ No. 150 cornerback and No. 1,792 overall player in the 2020 class.

Henderson caught three passes for 44 yards and tallied a pass breakup in a 19-17 loss to Buchanan on Sept. 12. Jones intercepted a deep pass intended for Henderson (1:10 below) in the end zone. Henderson failed to create separation, but to his credit, he received double coverage. He also had no chance to make a play with that throw. How much Liberty needed Henderson became apparent in its second meeting with Buchanan. Henderson missed the 27-0 playoff loss with a sprained ankle.

Jones film link here

Left to prove: Notre Dame’s biggest priorities when recruiting cornerbacks this class were length and verified speed. Henderson may have better length and straight-line speed than his fellow three cornerback signees: Caleb Offord, Landen Bartleson and Clarence Lewis. However, offense looks to be the better fit for Henderson. He seems to lack the lateral quickness necessary to play corner at an elite level. He’s one of the nation’s longest-striding corners this class and almost runs like a 6-foot-5 athlete. The finer points to playing corner — like route recognition and overall technique — appear to be lacking in Henderson at this stage. Then again, he only started playing the position as a high school junior.

Wide receiver looks to be the best spot for Henderson. His hands, speed and vertical leap would bode well on the outside. Henderson would still need to become more sudden if he played on offense. He’s not the craftiest route runner and frequently relies on one emphasized cut. He looks like a track hurdler playing football at times, making plays on his speed and leaping ability alone. Safety would also suit Henderson well because of his ball skills and tracking ability, but he would need to improve his physicality and tackling. Rivals’ three-star rating seems more fitting than 247Sports’ four-star rating because of the concerns regarding his change of direction.

Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty's Ramon Henderson, a 2020 cornerback, committed to Notre Dame on Dec. 18.