Henry spoke to TCI about the potential of playing with Thomas, and much more
Five-star defensive ends K.J. Henry and Xavier Thomas are close friends, and both are fierce competitors. That’s what makes their Madden video game contests so much fun.
The Clemson Insider visited Glenn High (Kernersville, N.C.) on Friday night to see Henry as part of our Tour of Champions, and the Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth standout took time to call out Thomas’s video game skills.
“I’m all up into video games. Hands down the best Madden player in the country,” Henry told TCI. “I’m better than Xavier, Micah Parsons just to name a few… (Thomas) knows what it is. I wanted to play him last time we were down there (at Clemson), but believe it or not he was scared to play me. So it is what it is.”
While they enjoy playing against each other on the virtual field, both Henry and Thomas have imagined what it would be like to play with each other in real life. Thomas has been working to recruit his friend since he committed to Clemson back in April.
Henry said that if he were to choose Clemson, the tandem of himself and Thomas on the Tigers’ defensive line would be like a video game “cheat code” — it just wouldn’t be fair for opposing offenses.
“That’s a cheat code. That’s what it is,” Henry said. “I think that’s dominance in itself. Xavier’s game speaks for itself, and I think mine does as well, so that would be a pretty hard thing to stop.”
Speaking of cheat codes, Henry has one in his life — his father, Keith, the running backs coach at UNC Charlotte.
Henry, a consensus top-25 prospect nationally, has been one of the country’s most heavily recruited players for a while. He said having a coach as his father is a big help with the recruiting process.
“He’s my cheat code,” Henry said. “He just makes sure everybody is honest with me. Behind the scenes, he can really read coaches, so it’s been pretty good so far. He’s just making sure I’m not getting cheating or blown over and that everybody’s genuine to me.”
Henry made his official visit to Clemson the weekend of the Georgia Tech game on Oct. 28, and because the weekend coincided with Charlotte’s open date, his father was able to accompany him, his mother and two younger siblings on the trip.
The family had a blast, according to Henry.
“Great visit. Another great visit,” he said. “It’s always been great going down there, visiting coach Swinney, coach Bates, coach Venables and that whole coaching staff. They just rolled out the red carpet for us. They really showed my family a lot of love, which they’ve been doing for a long time, and I had a really good time down there.”
Henry said his little brother and sister were ready to commit to Clemson after the visit, and now the Tigers have a couple of extra recruiters.
“They’ve been working me, trust me,” Henry said, smiling. “That ain’t the secret, OK. My little brother, little sister, if they don’t get me they’re getting them because they’re committed. They’re ready to go. They love the slide, they love all that good stuff, so they’re ready to go down there. My family really likes that place. They’re definitely working on me.”
Henry also made an unofficial visit to Clemson for the Auburn game on Sept. 9. He has been to Clemson multiple times and has developed a strong relationship with defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Dabo Swinney throughout his recruitment.
“It’s great. Two great coaches,” Henry said. “I see why they have so much success on the field. They really get a lot out of their players because they come to work and are working every day. They’re loving fathers on the field and off the field, so that relationship I’ve built with them, it’s been wonderful.”
Henry is down to five schools: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia Tech in no order. He plans to commit and sign on Dec. 20 before enrolling early at his school of choice.
A lot of top prospects grow tired of the recruiting process once they get to the point that Henry is at and can’t wait to get it over with. But not Henry — he remains grateful for the opportunities he has and continues to enjoy every second of it.
“It’s an opportunity that I never take for granted,” he said. “I see how people can get tired of it, definitely. But in the position I’m in… I have so many great friends who are great athletes who just might not have that build or whatever to be able to play at that level. So I take this opportunity head on and really appreciate it.”