Coastal Carolina

These seven former CCU and Grand Strand high school players are battling for NFL jobs

De’Angelo Henderson posted his resume on and within hours he received interest from multiple companies, including one in Georgia that invited Henderson to interview for a sales managerial position.

He planned to attend, and possibly accept the job if it was offered. Then the Minnesota Vikings intervened.

After being cut by the New York Jets on July 23, the Coastal Carolina University graduate was signed by the Vikings less than 24 hours later on July 24, and is one of at least seven former CCU or Grand Strand high school football players who are in preseason camps attempting to make NFL rosters.

He is joined by Temarrick Hemingway, Ryan Yurachek, Hunter Renfrow, Denzel Rice, Josh Norman and Clayton Geathers in NFL camps.

Henderson has received very limited playing time in his two NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos and Jets after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by Denver.

“I thought my time was up,” Henderson admitted. “I haven’t really had an opportunity to prove myself yet and new guys are getting shuffled in year by year so I just thought my time was up. So when I got released by the Jets I immediately started applying for jobs, and surprisingly I received some calls and emails within hours.”

The Vikings waived undrafted rookie safety Micah Abernathy to make room for Henderson, whose chances of making the team may be enhanced by the many connections he has to the Vikings’ coaching staff.

Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary Kubiak was working in Denver’s personnel department when the team drafted him, and Vikings quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak held the same role in Denver in 2017.

Vikings Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Rick Dennison held the same positions with the Jets last year. Henderson was signed to the Jets practice squad after being waived by Denver in September 2018, and was on the active roster for the final three games of the season.

“With them knowing who I am, knowing my character, knowing my abilities, I’m sure that helped out a lot,” Henderson said. “It’s a good opportunity. I’m pretty excited about it.

“It just feels good to have some coaches who know me and know what I’m capable of and who believe in me. These past couple years I kind of got lost in the shuffle, playing for coaches who didn’t draft me, they didn’t really know who I was. I was just another guy.”

Henderson, who is 5-foot-7 and 208 pounds, rushed seven times for 13 yards and caught two passes for 36 yards as a rookie with the Broncos, highlighted by a 29-yard touchdown catch. He also returned two kickoffs for a total of 59 yards. The 26-year-old rushed two times for 19 yards with the Jets.

The Summerville native is part of a backfield at Vikings camp that includes tailbacks Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah, and fullbacks C.J. Ham and Khari Blasingame.

“I’m doing everything in my best ability to make sure I put myself in position to make the team,” said Henderson, who owns CCU school records with 4,635 career rushing yards and 64 touchdowns, including at least one in an NCAA-record 35 straight games. “I’m working hard daily, giving it my all and we’ll see how the chips fall after preseason is over with.”

Hemingway, a North Myrtle Beach High graduate, is a tight end with the Carolina Panthers, who signed him in May after he was released by the Broncos.

Hemingway, 26, who is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, was a sixth-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 2016 out of South Carolina State, played in eight games as a rookie and was injured in 2017.

After the Rams released him in 2018, he joined the Broncos practice squad and was later promoted and played in five games. He has yet to record a catch in a regular season game after posting 93 catches for 1,056 yards and seven touchdowns at S.C. State.

Hemingway is one of seven tight ends on the Panthers roster, so several will likely be cut.

Yurachek, a Carolina Forest High graduate, is a fullback in the Dallas Cowboys camp. A tight end at Marshall University who caught 143 passes for 1,354 yards and 26 TDs in college, Yurachek (6 feet, 240 pounds) has been converted to a fullback at the pro level.

He was signed as an undrafted rookie in 2018 by New Orleans but was released and spent last season on the Oakland Raiders practice squad before being released in late May.

Yurachek, 22, and 30-year-old seven-year veteran Jamize Olawale out of North Texas are the two fullbacks on the Cowboys roster.

Rice, a Coastal Carolina alumnus, is a cornerback with the Buffalo Bills, who signed him to their practice squad on Nov. 13 and promoted him to the 53-man roster on Dec. 4.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound cornerback from Winston-Salem, N.C., played at CCU from 2011-2014. He entered the NFL in 2015 as an undrafted free agent with Philadelphia and appeared in four games with the Eagles in 2015 and three with Houston in 2016, logging nine tackles.

He was waived by the Texans before the 2017 season and spent time in the second half of the season on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad, and was on the Cleveland Browns active roster for the first eight games last season.

Renfrow, a Socastee High grad, is a rookie wide receiver with the Oakland Raiders after being selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft in April out of Clemson, where he recorded 186 career receptions for 2,133 yards and 15 touchdowns.

A pair of players are key pieces of their NFL teams’ defensive backfields.

Norman, a Coastal Carolina alum from Greenwood, enters his eighth NFL season and fourth as a cornerback with the Washington Redskins. Geathers, a Carvers Bay High product, enters his fifth season as a safety with the Indianapolis Colts after playing at Central Florida.

NFL teams must cut their rosters from up to 90 players to 53 on Aug. 31, and 10-man practice squads can be established on Sept. 1.

Henderson has a degree in Recreation and Sport Management and is a few classes shy of a second degree in Communications. He – like other local players in NFL camps – is hoping to further delay putting his resume to work in the business world.

“I told [the Georgia company] if everything doesn’t go as planned I’d love to come in for training and all that good stuff,” Henderson said. “But I’m excited about my opportunity. I feel like I got a new start, a fresh start being back with some guys who believe in me. That’s really exciting.”

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