It is not too often that a high school football program has a senior sign with an NCAA Division I Power-5 program. It's even rarer to have multiple players do so.
But that was the case for the Waxahachie Indians on Wednesday afternoon when Ladarius Henderson and Demani Richardson inked their national letters of intent with the Arizona State University and Texas A&M University football programs, respectively.
Both Henderson and Richardson were key members of the 2017 Waxahachie football team that advanced to the 5A Division II regional round, snapping a four-year playoff drought.
Henderson — a 6-foot-4, 280-pound left tackle — honored his commitment June 21 commitment to ASU by officially inking his NLI on Wednesday. ASU is a member of the PAC-12 Conference.
According to his on-the-field profile produced by ASU Athletics, Henderson is an "extremely athletic offensive lineman prospect that has tremendous potential and upside at the collegiate level." Henderson has increased his strength and added about 80 pounds since he enrolled at Waxahachie High in the spring of his sophomore year.
It was then, while he and his mother were in the counselor's office, that former coach Matt Kitna encouraged Henderson to join the football program. He had not previously played football while enrolled in DeSoto ISD.
"[Henderson] picked up the game quickly despite being relatively new to the sport as he started playing as a junior in high school," notes the ASU profile. "[He] utilizes his length to his advantage at the line of scrimmage, typically able to register the first punch at the point of attack thanks to a seven-foot wingspan [and] stays balanced when engaging and is able to use his footwork to block at the second level."
Henderson, who played left tackle for the Indians, was a three-star recruit as assessed by Rivals, while ESPN slotted him as the 103rd-best tackle in the 2019 class.
He allowed just one sack this season for the Indians and maintains a 4.4 GPA off of the field.
Of the 17 high school seniors who signed with Arizona State, Henderson was just one of three from Texas. He will play for former NFL head coach and current ASU head coach, Herm Edwards.
As for Richardson, his accolades are well documented — and well deserved.
The four-star recruit as labeled by Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports recorded 72 tackles for the Indians during his sophomore and junior seasons before suffering a knee injury Sept. 20 against DeSoto. He also rushed 22 times for 232 yards and three touchdowns during his senior season after accounting for 44 carries for 519 yards and seven scores the season before.
In addition to being a four-star recruit, Richardson is also ranked No. 43 (247Sports), No 90 (Rivals) and No. 136 (ESPN) nationally in the class of 2019. He is also the third-best safety in the nation, according to 247Sports. Both ESPN and Rivals rank Richardson as the 7th best safety in the country.
He was an Associated Press All-State honorable mention following his junior season for the Indians.
Richardson helps comprise an early signing class of 22 seniors and junior-college transfers for TAMU head football coach Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies.
Bleacher Report ranked the Aggies 2019 early signing class as the fifth-best in the nation, while TAMU checked in at No. 3 in the USA Today and Sports Illustrated rankings, respectively.
"The thing I love about this class, first of all, was the diversity of it," Fisher told TAMU Athletics of the Aggies signing day class. "We hit every position across the board, we hit needs, and not only just needs with players — but guys that we really wanted. The staff did a tremendous job I think of building relationships. We recruited the heck out of the state of Texas, which I think is one of the greatest football states in the country, and we try to get as many of those as we possibly could that we feel were the right guys, and we could get, and wanted to come here, all those things."
Though still officially undecided, Richardson has the opportunity to represent the Indians under the lights and in action one final time Saturday, Jan. 5 in the 2019 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He was one of 100 seniors selected to the high school showcase bowl game.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith