Florida’s Henderson to skip bowl, forgo senior season

Florida defensive back CJ Henderson knocks a pass away from LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson during last year's game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/ The Gainesville Sun]

 Florida’s defense took a significant hit Friday. Not only did junior cornerback CJ Henderson announce on Twitter he’s forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft, he also revealed he is going to skip the Gators’ bowl game to start preparing for pro ball.

 “After much prayer and consideration, I will be forgoing my senior season and declaring for the 2020 NFL draft and I will not be playing in the bowl game,” Henderson posted. “I’m excited to be one step closer to turning my lifelong dream into a reality.”

 Henderson’s early departure for the NFL is not surprising. Many were assuming this would happen heading into the 2019 season. Electing not to play in the bowl game very well could turn into a trend for UF’s draft-eligible players, including both underclassmen and seniors.

 Henderson is coming off a solid if not spectacular junior season in which he recorded 33 tackles, three tackles for losses, one stack, 11 pass breakups and no interceptions.

 For his UF career, Henderson started 33 games, broke up 26 passes and had six interceptions, including four in his true freshman season.

 Another UF defensive player, walk-on linebacker Umstead Sanders, also announced on Twitter that he is not returning for his senior season. He posted that he’s put his name in the NCAA transfer portal. In his two years at UF, the junior college transfer played in nine games, mostly on special teams.


  1. Then hit the bricks, dude. It’s one thing to pass on senior year, but quite another to bail on your teammates and yes, fans, for the bowl. I hope that sort of loyalty and character is duly rewarded in the NFL.

    Good riddance.

  2. I can’t blame Henerson. Nothing to play for in the form a ”championship.” He gave Florida 3 great years of his lfe, and I not only salute him and wish well, I thank him for being a ”Gator!” It’s too damn close to ”pay day” for him to not choose the pros. Gators 4 life!

      • ”Loyalty”???? To whom? To you? You won’t even SHOW YOUR FACE with your ”grin.” Henderson owes Florida NOTHING! Get over it Gator fans and show him some support. The high school kids (5 STARS YOU ALL WANT TO SO BADLY, ie: RECRUITS) come here, read your remarks, see your vitriol and think, ”Florida fans? No thanks!”

    • Love the comments brother, thanks for being human. Not a single one of these commenters has been in his position, so no one knows what they would do. If a college team hires a coach from another team they leave before the Bowl game alllllllll the time.

      How many of you terds have called the said coaching situation’s coach a quitter?

  3. Oh, so a face is required for opinion validity? Sure. Despite your trip to Irrelevancy Island, t’s not vitriol to point out that he is in fact, bailing on his teammates. I don’t care a damn about the NFL, and don’t care about those using college for a pro steppingstone. And if he doesn’t owe the fans any loyalty, fine – after shelling out for tix and travel, fine, happy to reciprocate. I never played of course, but have several friends who did play college ball, and they all think this is a lousy trend. Of course, maybe I’m just anonymously making it up …

    • You didn’t use your degree as a stepping stone to your job? If you would have graduated a year early would you come back for your senior year.

      A better example is if you were in your JR year of college and a friend offered you a job making $450,000+ a year would you go to your last class ? Or would you get on a plane and sign the contract for the job?

      What about graduate transfer, is he a quitter? If so Greenard is a quitter, did you booo him the whole year say he has no character?

  4. Cool down guys. I don’t like it either but it’s the way things are in this world anymore. Not the world I grew up in where loyalty and honor ruled, but it’s not the same now and that’s all there is to say about it. I certainly understand each of the positions articulated here, but I need to remind y’all that we’re all Gators and in that regard brothers. Cool off. This to shall pass, and there’s no reason to tear each other up over it.

  5. Congrats CJ on completing your apprenticeship at UF. Thank you for your hard work and many laudable contributions during your career at UF. We couldn’t have had the great seasons and NY6 appearances without you the past two years. You have upheld and continued the great DBU tradition at UF. While other fans may criticize your decision to skip the bowl game, I completely understand and support it. When you boil down to it, it’s just an exhibition game for fun and bragging rights compared to risking your family’s lifelong investment. Wish you the best on draft day and a lengthy professional career. Make us proud in the League. You will always be a Gator.

    • %10,000 an exhibition game. He also played on a bad ankle half the year, if he hurts that foot again and his 40 time isn’t as good as suspected and he drops to the 2nd round he loses 100’s of thousands of dollars. The NFL contracts now (very recent change) have a 1st round stipulation where their 2nd contract is a huge difference than being drafted in any other round.

  6. Yes, sadly it is a trend in this day in time to turn your back on your teammates. I sure hope CJ has a big upside because I saw him get torched by FSU’s Terry on a couple of occasions. He also got smoked all night against LSU. I remember Chauncey Gardner-Johnson being asked after he declared last year and he said there was never any question that he would play with his brothers! All he did was go out and have 2 interceptions against Michigan, which I’m sure had a positive effect on his draft status. Tell me again how many interceptions Henderson had this year?

  7. Just three words: Chauncey Gardner Johnson. I truly think he helped himself a little in the bowl game. What a heck of a game he had. HE has my deepest admiration and appreciation. Injuries can occur getting out of the shower. Do you stop bathing? AAHH. Me thinks I’m just an old Fuddy Dudd. Your guys go into battle, you go with them. I guess time has passed me by. Oh well, thanks Mr. Henderson for being a Gator Best of Luck to you in your future endeavors.

  8. I understand his decision to enter the NFL draft. HOWEVER, I do not approve of his decision to forego the bowl game. REALLY? This is a very selfish move. Yes, he is a very talented, gifted defensive back, but his decision is not one that a team player would make. Count me as being disappointed, as his (otherwise) contribution could make a key difference in the bowl game.

  9. So Henderson has declared for the draft and that he’s not playing in the Bowl game. Sorry but i have no respect for a guy who quits on his team. This University gave him room and board and a scholarship AND an opportunity for 3 years. What he signed up for was to play the game in return, all the games he’s healthy for. I dont care that he is scared he might get hurt, ITS FOOTBALL and thats what he traded for what he was given. To quit on the last game and refuse to play is a theft in my book and quitting on his team! In this particular case it wont matter as Va couldnt beat its way out of a wet paper bag against UF, but thats irrelevant. Cornerback is one of the safest positions to play anyway! It’s selfish putting himself in front of the team!

  10. What about the back up players getting more playing time? Did any of the negative NANCY’s (capital letters mean more Hahahahahahaha) think about that? Did anyone of you skip a day in middle school, high school or college? If so you are a quitter on your classmates. Did anyone call in sick to work when they were not sick? Well you are a quitter to your coworkers. I am guessing everyone thinks my comment is silly well so are the negative ones here. This is a Game. A game…..a……g.a.m.e. (Yes i can spell a little.) This is not a war…..

    • True enough, but it reveals something about one’s character.

      CJ did not do himself any favors playing this year. He was OK but not spectacular. CJ really needs to concentrate on the draft combine. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and project that he probably realizes that and is going to prepare. Good luck CJ.

  11. Pro football players sit out the last couple games if they know they are making the playoffs. NBA players sit out games throughout the whole season. i.e. playoff MVP too many examples to give, but I won’t be changing any of the Hatorade drinking terd-wrasslers.

    • Hold on there, Sam — guys like Grin, Daz, IMIOWAN et al are just expressing an opinion, which doesn’t make them any type of “terd” or turd for that matter. Count me among them who thinks this trend stinks to high heaven — does that make me a turd too? Cuidado, hombre.

      • You are certainly a terd-wrassler. You know I love you brother.

        But I want to point out that you attacked the trend not a Gator player. Those are totally different, view points.

        I understand saying you don’t like the trend but disowning him like a couple of these terds did or saying good riddanceis over the top.

      • One more G6, I hope you laugh………….

        Urban Dictionary: terd

        Terd, unlike Turd, is actually a very small piece of fecal matter. It is generally about the size of a raisin (little bigger) and is a rarity among fecal matter. Even more rare than the watery shi know as diarrhea …

        Love the definition hahahahahah

        • Well bud, I’m not a proctologist…..but I did play one on TV once. I’ve also stepped in a cow pie on occasion, but only when the cow pie was asking for it, so I will defer to your expertise in all things fecal including fecal by-products and accessories, not limited to the human anus and surrounding structures, i.e., the obstetrical complications of rectal babies. 🥴😉

          But Go Gators just the same, and make that lovely bride-to-be a Gator too! ❤🐊🏈

          • Lucky for me, she loves me a bunch so she cheers for all the teams I like. Then again she has never stepped foot out of Turkey and therefore doesn’t a have USA team for any sport…hhhhhhhmmmmmm should I bring her to the US….aaaaaahhhhhhhhmmmm…. that…that decision just became a little less clear…

          • HOLY SSHHHH!!! Love the Beavis and Butthead comment….especially (serendipity again and again) on the day of the last episode of his current TV production (Mike “da’ssssst” Judge) Silicon Valley, I believe it’s the series finale .

            As for my answer for said typed question above, just used google and usually the Urban dictionary pops up, which is indeed the website I prefer.

            P.S. da’ssssst is a Nacho Libre reference.

  12. No problem with him passing on his senior season, but what does he have to gain by skipping the bowl game? The risking an injury excuse doesn’t wash because he could have gotten hurt during any game during the season. The draft isn’t until April. Getting ready for the NFL doesn’t work for me either. He would be practicing and working out for the bowl game, not sitting on his butt eating chips and waiting for the combine. Remember the Michigan players who bailed on the bowl game against the Gators? That only helped UF really pound UM into an embarrassing loss. Also, considering the underwhelming season he had this year, staying for another season under Mullen could only benefit him in the draft. Unless he has some kind of family situation where he needs the contract $$$ ASAP and is getting some kind of advance from an agent, it’s just a slap in the face to his teammates and he’s denying himself an opportunity to enjoy being a Gator one last time. I hope it all works out well for him and I enjoyed watching his hustle on the field.

  13. If Henderson doesn’t have his heart into playing the bowl game, then he probably would fail to play at a high level anyway, so it may be better for the next man up to step in. As far as loyalty to the team or to UF or to fans, I’m sure he’s putting his family as his higher concern–so who honestly can argue with that. God, country, family, then team, etc. That’s a personal matter to weigh and who knows whose advice or guidance affected how he weighed his decision. I hope it works out for the best for him and for the next man up and the team. Just another challenge which the Gators can handle.

  14. Well, Dooley always says that fans are far more loyal to their teams than the coaches and players are. Coaches bail when a better offer comes along. Players see the NFL as a better offer, even though they sometimes overestimate their draft value.

    For my fellow Gator fans with military backgrounds, thank you for your service, but loyalty to your brothers in arms is sometimes a matter of life and death, whereas this is just football. It’s not likely that Henderson would be seriously hurt in the bowl game, so it is disappointing, but it’s his decision, and he’s made it. I wish him well.

    • Joe love your comments as always. But I am responding to everyone here, and not lumping you in with them when I say.

      This is not Baseball or Basketball. (maybe hit your head 3 times in 30 games)

      This is Football!!!

      This is a “game” where you bang your head on a wall 20-70 times a game. Above someone stated that they can get hurt anytime/anywhere….and yes that is true buttttttttttttttt

      You don’t see the brain injuries/damage right away (like a broken leg) before the football player’s career ends. These guys are risking their lives, people get paralyzed from playing this “game.” How many boxers and ExNFL players have committed suicide due to head injuries. I believe one of the UF players had to “quit” (as some say here) from the team this year or last due to a head injury.

      I know first hand how this works. I only had maybe 3-4 concussions in my life and the last one happened 10 years…..ago 8 years ago I wake up in a hospital to find out that I will be living with epilepsy the rest of my life due to head injuries {can’t get drunk anymore 🙁 🙁 🙁 } My point hopefully you can see by now is this is not just a game this is 20-70 little car wrecks in 3 hours.

      How many of the posters literally banged your head against the wall to get your school paid for…(not your future brain damage) just your college.

      • I get your point, Sam. One poster said CB is one of the safest positions to play. That sounds good on the surface, and maybe it’s true. I did play CB in high school…for one series, until I got beat on a fake run where I thought I had contain and the safety thought he had contain. I guess he was right, because I was the one that got pulled! Btw, the RB threw the pass 10 yards over the WR’s head, lol.

        I still don’t think there’s a significant chance of a career-ending injury, but there is certainly a chance. In the end, it’s his decision, and I respect it. Thank’s for all you did for the Gators, C.J., and best wishes to you. Go Gators!!