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Henderson tries to lead Terps the right way

October 26, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - If Erin Henderson was a politician, he'd be a right winger.

The same might be said if he were an ice hockey player.

But as a University of Maryland linebacker, Henderson has to be excused if he leans to his right.

"The whole left side of my body (has injuries)," Henderson said with a laugh, probably out of the right side of his mouth.

Henderson has done everything he can to stay on the field for the Terrapins this season. The junior is a candidate for a number of national defensive awards, but more importantly, he is arguably the heart and soul of Maryland's defense.

So, injured or not, Henderson believes he has to be out there.

"I sat and watched the team play for two years," Henderson said. "I told myself that I would never watch again. If I can walk and can find a way to get out there to help my teammates, I'll do it."

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The drive hasn't been without personal consequence.

Henderson injured his left knee against Rutgers on Sept. 26, which sidelined him during the next week's win over Georgia Tech. It took a sprained ACL and strained meniscus to make him watch the Terps for the only time since his freshman and redshirt years.

Before that, he suffered through an ulcer on his left cornea.

He has played with a broken left thumb, an injury he sustained during Sept. 13's game against West Virginia. It is an injury that has since healed.

"You guys didn't catch that one," he said while flexing the digit.

It was all topped off during Saturday's 18-17 loss to Virginia when Henderson suffered a cut lip and a chipped tooth. A hit in the face mask by a Virginia lineman cracked his visor and drove it back into his face.

"I went to the dentist and got it fixed already," he said, flashing a Hollywood smile. "I had a tooth break before. I'll tell you, that hurt. My gums are still swollen."

Henderson still registered 18 tackles against Virginia.

As if it wasn't enough, Henderson also has a shoulder "stinger" on his other side, just so his right half doesn't feel left out.

The injuries haven't hampered Henderson's play as much as it has altered his lifestyle. The only thing he has hit less than opposing players might be his snooze alarm.

"I have been spending entirely too much time in the training room," Henderson said. "I don't have any classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I thought it would be great because I would be able to sleep in. I have to get up by 7:30 so that I can be in the training room by 8:15. The training staff here has been great."

Now, Henderson and the Terrapins (4-3, 1-2) need to win at least two of their last five games to earn a bowl bid. And all five are Atlantic Coast Conference games, which they need to sweep to have any chance of winning the Atlantic Division and advancing to the ACC championship game in Jacksonville, Fla.

The drive starts Saturday, when Maryland plays Clemson, which also has two division losses. Tigers running back James Davis guaranteed Clemson would win on Monday.

"He's entitled to his opinion," Henderson said. "That's why we play the games on Saturday."

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