Former Smyrna star quarterback gets his chance to shine with Blue Hens
Managing Sports Editor
Patience is a virtue.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Nolan Henderson had to live in this reality for much of his first two years as a Blue Hen. He won’t have to wait any longer, as he was named Delaware’s starting quarterback for Sept. 21’s game against the University of Pennsylvania. Henderson is the first Delawarean to start at quarterback for the Blue Hens since Dover’s Sam Postlethwait did so in 2001.
Henderson appeared in a few games for the Blue Hens before, making his first appearance in 2018 against Villanova where he threw for 152 yards and a touchdown. He has played in every game to date this year, including most of the second half against North Dakota State where he threw for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
He also played the best game of his career last Saturday against Penn when he threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He also showed his excellent escape ability by adding 33 yards rushing, not counting sacks. Those 260 passing yards were the most by a UD quarterback in his first start since Trent Hurley threw for 310 against West Chester in 2012. He also threw for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the battle against Pitt.
“This guy’s gonna be a great player,” Head Coach Danny Rocco said of Henderson after Saturday’s 28-27 comeback victory over Penn. “I’m not saying he isn’t one right now, but you’re just gonna grow everyday, just like all of us. We get better everyday and we took a giant step forward today. To be the starting quarterback in your first start and get a dramatic fourth quarter win, it’s a big deal, and that’s something we need to celebrate.”
Henderson is no stranger to putting up big numbers. In three seasons as a starter for Smyrna High School, he threw for 7,764 yards and 89 touchdowns, while also adding 1,077 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. He also caught a touchdown in his senior season to help show his all-around talent. He was a two-time first team All-State selectee, Gatorade State Player of the Year in 2016, and led Smyrna to two straight state championships in 2015 and 2016, the first two football championships in school history.
While Henderson has gotten all the glory recently, redshirt senior quarterback Pat Kehoe was relegated to the bench for the Penn game, but will still provide a role on this team. Rocco pulled Kehoe early in the second half against North Dakota State after he completed two of his nine passes and threw an interception. In three games this year, Kehoe has thrown for 479 yards and seven touchdowns, but he has also thrown four interceptions. He started every game last season, throwing for 2,075 yards and 17 touchdowns, but only completed 49.33% of his passes.
As a redshirt senior in his last season, it could be frustrating for Kehoe to be stuck on the bench, but such is the football life. Henderson has shown a lot of promise during his time on the field and Rocco is doing what is best for the team. He has been heckled by pessimists who say he is too small to play, but the redshirt sophomore will get an early chance to prove himself as Delaware’s quarterback of the future.