Keonte Henson made his first career start at defensive end for Johns Hopkins on Saturday, and the Annapolis resident and Broadneck graduate may never play anywhere else.
Henson recorded eight tackles (all solo), three tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles in the No. 10 Blue Jays’ 49-28 demolition of Centennial Conference foe Muhlenberg at Homewood Field. For his efforts, the sophomore was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week.
Coach Jim Margraff said Henson’s development has been on an accelerated curve.
“Keonte’s explosive,” Margraff said Wednesday. “We had him as an outside linebacker last year. He’s got enough size to play anywhere on the field – and speed. He could play in the back-level defense and the second level, and we moved him up to the defensive end spot so that we could get a pass rush out of him and he could do some things. He’s adjusting to the position, but he certainly has all the athletic skills to do it. He’s a very bright guy, so he’s picking things up very quickly. We’re pleased with his play so far, but we’re excited about what he’s going to turn into and what he’s going to become.”
Henson, who leads the defense in tackles for loss (five), sacks (2½) and forced fumbles (two) and ranks third in total tackles (25), uses his 6-foot, 230-pound frame to outmuscle and run past opponents. His versatility convinced Margraff to move Henson from outside linebacker to defensive end for Johns Hopkins (4-0 overall and 3-0 in league).
“We’re thin up front anyway and he’s explosive,” Margraff said. “Even at outside linebacker last year, all of a sudden he would just show up and you would hear this hit. Right now, we have [senior strong safety] Brady Watts out there who might be the best defensive player in the conference along with [senior middle linebacker] Keith Corliss. We’ve got Brady Watts back there and [junior inside linebacker] Dan Johnson who is playing very well. Keonte’s size and speed makes him very versatile, and we needed some help with some pass rush coming off the edge, and he’s fit that great so far.”