On July 7, former Coastal Carolina running back De’Angelo Henderson returned to his old stomping grounds and hosted a free football camp for kids between the ages of 5 and 14 at Brooks Stadium.
Henderson, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, played at Coastal Carolina from 2013 to 2016. During his time at Coastal Carolina, Henderson became Coastal’s all-time leader in 10 different categories including rushing yards (4,635), rushing touchdowns (58) and points scored (386).
Henderson talked about what it meant for him to come back to Coastal and give back to a community that helped him achieve his NFL dream.
“Growing up, my family wasn’t blessed when it comes to finances,” said Henderson. “We never had money to attend camps so one thing I told myself is that if I ever got into the position that I am currently at, I would offer free camps for kids.”
Nearly 70 kids from around the area came out to Brooks Stadium to learn from one of the greatest players to wear a Coastal Carolina jersey.
Henderson said that while the day was definitely about having fun and playing football, he wanted to leave the kids with important lessons that would help them throughout their life.
“In terms of leadership, teamwork and quick thinking, I really believe that football translate to life a lot,” said Henderson. “What I wanted to do was use life skills and football and combine the two so that they could have fun and learn at the same time.”
Henderson was not alone out on the field on Saturday afternoon. He was accompanied by several of his former teammates such as Devin Brown, Quinn Backus and Rod Holder.
Brown, who played at Coastal Carolina from 2013 to 2016, owns the Coastal Carolina record for career return yards (1,983). Brown also is responsible for five of the six longest scoring plays in Coastal Carolina history.
Brown talked about what it was like to come out and support a former teammate.
“It is amazing to see how many kids came out today,” said Brown. “This was something that De’Angelo had talked about doing back when he was in college and when he reached out to me to see if I would be interested in helping him out, I was one hundred percent on board.”
Since being drafted by the Broncos in 2016, Henderson has experienced a lot from seeing action on the field in both the preseason and regular season, becoming a father and surviving a horrific car crash in mid-May.
Henderson opened up about the obstacles that he has had to overcome.
“That wreck in May was definitely an eye-opener,” said Henderson. “It opened me up to be more appreciative of everything. Not that I took anything for granted but it taught me to be even more appreciative of the opportunities that I have, the people in my corner and the blessings I’ve received over the years. One thing I walked away with was I want to help reach as many people as I can and touch as many people as I can because you never know when your time will be called. This camp was a way for me to take advantage of the opportunities and be able to use the platform that I have been given.”
With training camp starting soon, Henderson talked about his preparation for his second year in the NFL.
“We were given a packet to follow in regards to training, whether we were training ourselves or had a personal trainer,” said Henderson. “I have been following that packet, running a lot and eating really well. I am ready to roll. Once we have to report to camp in the next few weeks, we have conditioning tests and from there, it’s go time.”
For Broncos fans, Henderson has a message.
“It is going to be a big year,” said Henderson. “I have a great opportunity to compete this year so I am very, very excited.”
Coastal has sent several players to the NFL. Two of the most notable players in the league are Josh Norman of the Redskins and Mike Tolbert of the Buffalo Bills. Both Norman and Tolbert were a part of the Carolina Panthers team that went to Super Bowl 50 in 2016.
Matt Hogue, Director of Athletics at Coastal Carolina University, talked about the impact that former Coastal student-athletes have had in the community, whether it is where they are playing or here on the Grand Strand.
“One of the goals that you always want to try and achieve with your alumni, whether they are a student-athlete or not, is that they’re going to have a sense of community,” said Hogue. “I think that is one of the key parts about an active and successful alumni base is one that no matter what happens, they are always going to have a commitment and a love for their school.”
The Broncos will have their first preseason game on Aug. 11 as they take on the Minnesota Vikings at home. Denver opens their 2018 regular season with a home game versus the Seattle Seahawks.