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March 17, 2010

Bowie's Hendy emerging as top prospect

There are two moments that show exactly why Bowie junior Jeremiah Hendy is one of the top skill prospects in Maryland. One is a play only someone with superior football acumen could make; the other is just utter physical domination. Combine both and the result is a football player with eye-popping potential.


The first play occurred last Oct. 3, when Bowie took on Prince George's County powerhouse Suitland. Suitland is known for their power-running game, but their quarterback, Devonte Lindsey, had a rifle arm and a number of wide receivers to throw to.

On one particular sequence, Bowie expected pass. They dropped into a cover 3 and Hendy, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound defensive back, sat back in a deep zone. His eyes were glued on Lindsey.

"I was watching the quarterback the whole time and then I saw the Suitland receiver out of the corner of my eye break outside," Hendy explained. "I didn't want to move too soon … but when the quarterback cocked his arm to throw I broke on the ball. I stepped in front, made the pick and went down the sideline for a 60-yard score."

The next moment occurred a couple weeks later against Roosevelt, another tough team. This time, Hendy lined up at wide receiver. It was third-and-long from the Roosevelt 30-yard line, and Bowie surely had to pass to pick up a first down.

"They sent me on a fly route and I just ran straight down the seam," Hendy said. "I beat the safeties over the top, caught the pass and ran by everyone for a score."

Two plays: one pure intellect, the other pure skill. Either way, Hendy got the same result.

No wonder he has Division I schools from Maryland to California and everywhere in-between dialing the 301 area code.

"Physically and mentally Jeremiah is ready for Division I," said Bowie coach Lionel Macklin. "He's got the whole package."

Hendy excels at both receiver and cornerback, so he could easily play either in college. Maryland has offered him as a defensive back, but other schools are intrigued with his receiver skills.

"I'm mainly getting recruited as a defensive back, but I can play either one," Hendy said. "I'll play wherever a team needs me."

As a receiver, Hendy caught 16 passes for 280 yards and four touchdown last year. He combines 4.45 speed with a lightning-quick first step that often leaves cornerback dumbfounded. Plus he has hands like Larry Fitzgerald and enough strength (450-pound squat) to play bump and run with even the most physical cornerbacks.

Macklin, for his part, would like to see Hendy play receiver in college. But he admits he's a little biased.

"I'm an ex-receiver myself," said Macklin, who played at South Dakota State and spent a season on the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad.

Macklin's knowledge and experience has certainly aided Hendy in his development. While most receivers struggle with the fundamentals, Hendy is already learning the finer points of the position.

Macklin has shown Hendy how to make one crisp move an immediately turn upfield. He's stressed keeping low out of breaks so cornerbacks have less of a target to hit. He's taught him how to best use his hands in bump-and-run coverage. He's even offered tips on how to disguise routes with head fakes and footwork so cornerbacks never know what's coming.

"I try to help him out any way I can," Macklin said.

That being said, Hendy might be an even better cornerback. Last year he had close to 30 tackles and three interceptions.

In fact, defensive back is in his blood. Hendy's uncle, Kenny Easley, played safety for the Seahawks from 1981-87 and has offered advice to his nephew from time to time.

"He's got some good insight," Hendy said. "But mainly he just gives tips on how to deal with recruiting and stuff."

Hendy must be learning from somewhere. Otherwise he wouldn't be able to read quarterbacks out of a cover 3.

"He's a lockdown corner," Macklin said. "When the quarterback drops back five steps, he's ready for a deeper route and when it's a quick drop, he's ready to come up and jump that quick slant. He knows what the quarterback and receiver are thinking and he won't back down."

Of course, Hendy's size helps, too. It can be daunting going against a 6-2, 185-pound corner when most high school receivers are a few inches shorter and 15 pounds lighter. On top of that, Hendy has the speed to hang with the quick, little guys that often give taller defensive backs trouble.

But best of all, he's not afraid to take chances when the situation warrants it.

"I'm always looking for the chance to make my move," Hendy said. "I understand down and distance and when I can be aggressive."

Right now, the size-smarts combination is a rarity in high school football. Needless to say, it has college recruiters raving. Besides Maryland, he's hearing from schools like Penn State, Iowa, Rutgers, N.C. State, Michigan and his uncle's alma mater, UCLA.

"A lot of hard work is paying off," Hendy said. "It feels pretty good to have this interest. I've always wanted to play college football. This is a dream for me."


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