Grace Brethren star Josh Henderson has decision to make on college

Grace Brethren middle linebacker Josh Henderson awaits a snap against Bishop Diego on Oct. 4.
(Shotgun Spratling / For The Times)

Josh Henderson is a bulldozer on the football field.

On a recent carry, a defender dived at the legs of a fullback in front of Henderson and tried to make a shoestring tackle. It caused the 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior from Simi Valley Grace Brethren High to run into the back of an offensive lineman blocking ahead of him, but Henderson wouldn’t go down. He redirected the run and went left.

Two Westlake defenders tried to pull him down from behind and a third from the front. Henderson lost his footing and nearly fell forward on his face mask, but he shook free putting his hand down in front to regain his balance. A fourth defender arrived. Henderson didn’t even have a chance to bring his head up. He ducked underneath.


The defender rolled past him as Henderson kept crawling forward using his off hand to propel him forward, battling for every yard he could get. He slipped the tackle and then was squeezed by a secondary defender. He never was able to stand up straight on the play, but he just kept bulling his way forward, adding even more yardage.

A one-yard gain had grown to three and then five, and ultimately to 12 yards because of the determination of Henderson. It was one of 18 carries for a career-high 267 yards with five touchdowns. Henderson also caught a 35-yard touchdown pass in the 49-35 win.

Not a bad night for a player being recruited as a middle linebacker. Henderson also had 12 tackles and a sack in the game.

“Most coaches see me as a middle linebacker,” Henderson said. “I’m a little different than your average linebacker. I’m a little faster. I can I move around the field. I can play sideline to sideline. They like that I’m instinctual, fast, and you know, I’ve been making plays.”

Henderson has helped Grace Brethren to a 6-0 start, leading the team with 14 touchdowns. He is second with 549 rushing yards, averaging 8.9 yards per carry. He has a team-high 55 tackles, leads the Lancers with 11 tackles for a loss, including a team-best five sacks, and has an interception.

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Commitments aren’t all the same

Henderson’s playmaking ability has drawn interest from college coaches, landing him six scholarship opportunities. His first came from Azusa Pacific.


“It was really actually an unbelievable moment for me,” he said. “At first, I was like ‘Did this …? Is this really happening right now?’ Yeah. It was cool.”

His next four offers came from Mountain West schools. The most recent school to offer was Army — the second service academy that had presented a scholarship opportunity. Henderson understands the commitment service academies seek is more than just football.

“I’ve talked to Army a lot and I’ve talked to Air Force a good amount too,” he said. “I just got to decide if that’s the route in life I want to go. The academics are really high level and there’s the commitment after. I’ve talked to my family a lot. I’m just thinking through that. Just figure out what my plan in life is kind of, but it’s exciting.”

Visits to come

Henderson said his primary focus as a Lancers captain is getting Grace Brethren back in a state title game. The three-star prospect has taken unofficial visits to Fresno State and Colorado State, both of which he said took really great care of him and have coaches with whom he’s built strong relationships.

He plans to turn his full attention to recruiting following the season. He wants to then make some campus visits, including some of the five official visits each prospect is allowed by the NCAA.

“I’m really just looking for a college that I fit into,” Henderson said. “The coaches mean a lot to me, so that’s important to me. Just getting to know them, seeing what their team is all about. I’m just taking my time thinking through things and just building relationships and seeing what happens.”