Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney welcomed nine freshmen midyear enrollees from the historic 2018 signing class to campus in January.
The group is tied for the biggest class of midyears for the Clemson program. Swinney also had nine midyear enrollees in 2015.
The nine newcomers started classes on Jan. 10 and are able to participate in Clemson’s spring practices, which began Feb. 28.
In the sixth installment of our Impact Freshmen series detailing Clemson’s early enrollees, The Clemson Insider looks at five-star defensive end K.J. Henry:
Hometown (High School): Winston-Salem, N.C. (West Forsyth)
Height, Weight: 6-6, 235
Prospect ratings/rankings: 5-star, No. 3 DE, No. 1 state, No. 6 national (ESPN); 5-star, No. 3 WDE, No. 2 state, No. 26 national (Rivals); 5-star, No. 4 WDE, No. 3 state, No. 26 national (247Sports)
High school stats/accolades: One of the top players in the nation by all services… Ranked as a 5-star player by all three services.. Second-team USA Today All-American… Played in Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando… Outstanding basketball player as well, played four years and 115 games… Scored 1,156 career points.. Averaged 16 points and seven rebounds as a junior in 2016-17
Strengths: Henry is a very versatile pass rusher. He played outside linebacker for West Forsyth, and he is capable of playing either defensive end spot or standing up and playing in space. He has great speed and a fast first step off the edge, and he can get around the corner to the quarterback in a hurry. He can power through opposing offensive linemen, but he is long and at his best when he uses that length as well as his leverage to his advantage. He plays with sound technique, is stout at the point of attack and good at stopping the run as well. The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder is athletic and agile with a great frame. He will fill out that frame and physically develop in Clemson’s strength and conditioning program.
How he fits in: Considering his versatility, Henry figures to fit in at the rush-end position for the Tigers. That means he would play in both a three-point stance on the defensive line as well as a stand-up edge-rusher that drops into coverage in some cases. Henry is a good bet to avoid a redshirt as a true freshman this fall. Enrolling early and going through spring practice will help him learn the playbook and get acclimated to playing at the next level. With fellow defensive ends Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell returning, Henry won’t have to be asked to do too much as a first-year player. The Tigers instead will be able to groom him for a larger role moving forward. Expect Henry to develop into a leader and disruptive force on Clemson’s defensive line in the future. With Henry and fellow bookend Xavier Thomas on board, the future is bright for Clemson’s defensive front.
Coach speak: West Forsyth head coach Adrian Snow on Henry — “First and foremost, K.J. Henry is a great young man. That’s the bottom line. He’s a great kid. He’s awesome.
“You know he’s going to go to class, do what you ask him to do, have a brilliant smile, and he’ll make the campus better. And he’ll also help you win football games, which is cool.”
–Staff reports contributed to this story
Previous installments in TCI’s Impact Freshmen series: