This is what I love about college football, man. I get older, and the players at key positions seem to get younger.
Taking liberties with a “Dazed and Confused” quote aside, No. 24 Arizona State opened the 2019 season with a true freshman as both its starting and backup quarterbacks. As of Week 3, the Sun Devils were also starting a pair of true freshmen on the offensive line, one at right guard and the other at left tackle.
It’s the latter lineman that’s the most noteworthy.
In last Saturday’s wild win over Michigan State in East Lansing, LaDarius Henderson made his first career start at left tackle in place of senior Zach Robertson, who is still dealing with an unspecified personal issue. A three-star member of ASU’s 2019 recruiting class, the 6-4, 285-pound Texas native currently clocks in at the ripe old age of… 17. 1-7. Seventeen.
In fact, Henderson won’t celebrate his 18th birthday until December. Arguably the best part? Henderson didn’t play his first season of football until he was a junior in high school.
In other words, a 17-year-old starting left tackle at a Power Five program is in his third year of playing the sport. And, according to his position coach, Henderson acquitted himself quite well in his initial start.
“LaDarius got thrown in his first college game,” offensive line coach Dave Christensen said. “He just turned 17-years-old, he’s never played a snap, he’s got 70,000 people in front of him in the stadium, playing against a great player. I think probably three of their four guys will get drafted this year on the defensive front.
“I thought he battled his tail off. It was a heck of a task to take on.”
Fellow true freshman Dohnovan West is starting at right guard as well, and ASU plans to continue with those very young linemen in the lineup for this weekend’s home game against Colorado. One factor helping in that youth movement is that the Sun Devils have seniors manning the left guard/center/right tackle positions.