Vik: What’s up guys? This is Vik with The Big Lead. Excited to jump on today to talk with Quadree Henderson from Pittsburgh. One of the best returners in the country, this kid is a sleeper, should be a fun call.
Quadree: How are you doing man?
Vik: Good. I’m excited to jump on, thanks for jumping on with me. I know you got a lot going on with the Draft coming up. How you feeling? You’re getting ready for it?
Quadree: Yes, I’m getting ready for it. Been dreaming of this moment since I was five years old. It’s coming down slowly, but surely. I’m just being patient like everybody else, waiting for the Draft.
Vik: Do you have any big plans for it?
Quadree: I’m going to have a draft watch party at my high school that I went to. I have a couple people coming by just to watch the draft.
Vik: That’s awesome that you’re going to be with your closest peeps, that’s going to be great. Before we jump into some questions, I’d love to hear your story. Everyone has their own story, I’d love to hear a little bit about it.
How you got started? I know you said you’ve been dreaming about it since you were five. So just walk me through how you got into it a little bit, and what’s your inspiration behind it?
Quadree: I actually first started football at the age of five, that’s when I first started. As a kid, I was always very energetic, running around the house, wanting to throw football around with my dad and my uncle that lived around the corner. My dad said I had a lot of energy when I was a little kid, so he decided to put me in football. One of my dad’s closest friends, who was helping out with the team, told him to bring me by. Ever since I first stepped on the field, I fell in love with the game.
Playing football since the age of five, I’m 21 now, so that shows you how many years I’ve been dedicated to football. My inspiration behind it is just be great, and to make my mom and dad proud. I’ve been dreaming of going to the NFL since I was five years old. This would be a dream come true Draft day. I know it’s coming soon, so that’s pretty much my inspiration, just to make my mom and dad proud and achieve a goal for myself.
Vik: That’s awesome and I love it. So just talking football a little bit, I know you are a burner. Do you model yourself behind any other players like Devin Hester? Any kind of old-school guys or who are some of the guys you look up to when you’re getting ready for things?
Quadree: I used to watch Devin Hester a lot when he played for the Bears. I used to model my game after Tavon Austin. I watched his highlights before every college game, from West Virginia, his Senior highlights. We have similar traits, same size, same speed, same playmaking abilities. I really model my game after Tavon Austin. Another person that I really like watching is Tyreek Hill. He is sort of like Tavon Austin and he even wears number 10. I look up to those guys. I just want to be like them when I grow up, even better.
Vik: Watching their old mixtapes is like watching a video game. Where do you see yourself at the next level? Football has changed a lot, everyone needs guys like you that fill in space, explosive, getting big plays, kind of moving you all around the field. Do you see yourself very involved on offense, all around the field, or starting off as more of a returner?
Quadree: I see myself as a returner and also on the offensive side of the ball. I’m very versatile. I can go out wide as a receiver, I’m a slot receiver, I can also go out of the backfield. A screen out of the backfield, that just turns into a punt return for me once I get an open space. I feel like at the next level up I’ll be used very well. It all comes down to that offensive coordinator and how they use me just like they use Tyreek hill and Tavon Austin. Guys you get in space. I can take a five yard bubble screen and turn it into like a 25 yard gain. I feel I’d be very versatile on that side of the ball too.
Vik: I love it man, that’s how the game has changed and I’m a big Chicago Bears guy. We got a guy like that in Tarik Cohen. Just last year alone, even in limited snaps, he changed the game. Just that one snap, that’s kind of the big way you can affect the game.
Going into a little bit more with like the draft coming up, how are you feeling? Just like mentally, physically, you ready for everything that’s involved coming up?
Quadree: I’m ready for everything that’s involved. Like I said, I’m just patient with the process, you can’t rush anything on this, I’ve got to wait until the end of April to see where I go.
Vik: What do you have this month coming up? Do you have some private things worked out or planned so far with some teams?
Quadree: Not as of right now.
Vik: I’m sure you’re working on that, and kind of staying in shape and then setting some of that stuff up. And again, I’m a big Bears guy, I love that you watched Devin Hester a little bit. What do you know about Chicago? We always need dangerous guys. We’re going offensive a little bit with our new coach, what do you know about Chicago?
Quadree: I know you have a playmaker in Tarik Cohen, like you said. Also, Kevin White, coming back off injury, I think that’ll be a big factor on offense. Like I said, I watched Devin Hester when he played for you guys and it was a great game every time you all played. Thomas Jones was your running back I think, so I know a little bit about Chicago. I grew up mainly watching them because of Devin Hester.
Vik: Let’s talk a little football. Obviously, you’re an All-American, you’re one of the best in the game being a punt returner. Was there kind of a mindset that you had going into every game? Just where you feel like you can break off one every time you touch the ball? Tell me a little bit about the mindset, how you became so good at that?
Quadree: I’ve been returning punts since I first started football, at the age of five. Something that comes naturally to me. Even in high school I’d return punts, kick returns. It got to the point in high school where teams would squib kick it or kick it away from me. College basically was just like high school. You want to be the best, you want to be able to flip the field for your offense. Change the field position so they have a short drive rather than a long drive. Being a playmaker, I have great vision. I’m patient with my blockers, and I’m a competitor. I was like nobody’s going to be able to stop me once I get into open space.
Vik: That’s the kind of mindset you got to have to be good, probably just comes natural to you now. You don’t have to think about it, which is kind of the best part about it.
Everyone’s going to be digging through some of your old footage, doing a lot of research on you. Is there a game that sticks out in your career for you? Your college career, where you are like check out some of my film from that game?
Quadree: I would definitely say my sophomore year against Penn State. Go check out that film if you want the real Quadree Henderson.
Vik: I got to go watch that now, that’s great. Let’s have a little bit of fun. Let’s talk non-football stuff, what else do you do for fun if you’re not playing football? What are some of the things you enjoy off the field?
Quadree: Pick-up games of Basketball, and just chilling with my boys back at home. They’re all like comedians to me, laugh at stupid stuff. I’m also a big paintball fan. I have four paintball guns, so I just like to go paintball. I really like paintballing, playing with my friends and family, and pick-up Basketball.
Vik: I didn’t know that about you. Everyone’s got some of the things that they love on their own, which is pretty cool. How about pregame stuff, what gets you hyped like? What are you listening to before games or do you have any routine or superstitions?
Quadree: Pregame music, I put my phone on shuffle but usually Migos, Drake, Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Little Uzi, all guys that get me pumped.
Pregame routine, come out of the tunnel, I go to the goal post, say a prayer, take a lap, and just lock into my music. I’ll go back inside, get dressed, get ready for positional warm-ups and stuff like that.
Vik: I’ve been asking all the guys this, so here goes. Chicago, if you come here, you got to be eating some Chicago deep-dish pizza. Have you tried any so far?
Quadree: I’ve never had Chicago deep-dish pizza at all.
Vik: All right, well when you get here, we’re going to go try some. I’m going to take you out for it, make sure you hit me up when you get here.
That’s all I had. Good luck with everything and I’ll be rooting for you. Your resume is impressive, just keep working hard and keep grinding and good things are going to be on your way for sure. Thanks for spending some time with me and we’ll chat soon.
Quadree: Thank you, no problem.