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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame S Ramon Henderson Embracing New Challenges to the Fullest

November 23, 2021

Life can change in a hurry and college football is no different. 

Ramon Henderson was working at cornerback since his arrival last year, but last week the Notre Dame sophomore was moved to safety ahead of the Virginia game. 

"These past two weeks have been kind of fast," Henderson laughed. "I'm starting to get the hang of safety. I know every call, but it's more of me calling the checks out from the formation or what I have to say out loud with the corners or rover. 

"It's been fun and going well. I'm still trying to improve. It's been fast and it has been crazy, but it's been good."

Part of the transition to a new position is not only learning it, but some come with more responsibilities. 

Safety requires mastering the position itself, but also the positions surrounding him. 

"When I was playing corner, it was more so knowing what I would have to do at that spot, but now, I need to know who is pushing here, who has the hook, or who is taking this away," Henderson explained. "Just fully having full capacity of our defensive playbook." 

Communication is also a significant difference as the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has to make calls and checks for his teammates. 

It's a lot to process, but that might be the easy part for Henderson as the California native isn't a big talker and soft spoken. 

"I wouldn't say it's a challenge because you don't do too much at corner," Henderson said of his communication responsibilities. "It's a challenge for me in my position and how I am. I don't speak much. I don't talk unless I'm spoken to, so trying to be the guy in demand all of a sudden is a big change for me." 

Enter Chris O'Leary and Kyle Hamilton. 

O'Leary has done a phenomenal job of coaching his unit this year as the Irish are dealing with the loss of Hamilton for at least the regular season. 

"Coach O'Leary is fun and kind of younger," stated Henderson. "He knows our slang and everything. He's a good guy and knows our defense really well. He does a lot of our back coverage and third down stuff." 

Hamilton might not be playing, but he is doing everything in his power to help coach up the youth in the secondary, which means staying attached to Henderson's hip. 

"Kyle's been a big help too," Henderson explained. "Kyle is a teammate, but he's a coach now too. He's telling me what to take away and what I should be looking for on this play or that formation. 

"That's across the line with everyone. Houston (Griffith), DJ (Brown), X (Xavier Watts) and KJ (Wallace). Our group is really like a brotherhood. They're trying to help in any way to get us all together and make us do well." 

And yes, Henderson admits he does feel a little pressure as he's filling in for the best safety in the country. 

"It's a big role to fill," stated Henderson. "I am playing behind an All-American, who is about to go 1st round. From that standpoint, I don't have a lot of room to mess up. I can't do stuff that is typically already fulfilled to the max with Kyle playing. 

"I hold myself accountable every time I play and I'm trying to go 110 percent. I'm just trying to hold my 1 of 11 and make our team win." 

Henderson is up for the challenge and when push comes to shove, it's why he chose Notre Dame. 

"I still think of myself as a kid still, but at the end of the day, I see myself growing and doing things now that I wouldn't be doing last year," said Henderson. "I see my body changing. I'm 190-195 now. When I came here, I was 160. 

"Talking now on the field, I know I wasn't talking before - just a whole bunch of things I can see in myself change. Just coming here was a great choice with school and football, but it's a well-developing institution into your manhood." 

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