Spartan leading tackler Xavier Henderson to return for 2022


MSU linebacker Cal Haladay (27) and safety Xavier Henderson (3) smile in the Spartans’ 42-14 home win over Youngstown State on Sept. 18/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Carter Landis, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich— Michigan State senior safety Xavier Henderson has announced that he is returning to the Spartans for his final year of eligibility and forgoing the 2022 NFL Draft, he announced on his Twitter Thursday afternoon. Henderson is the second Spartan with NFL aspirations to announce his return, with wide receiver Jayden Reed previously announcing his decision on Tuesday. Henderson led the team in tackles in 2021 with 96. 

Henderson, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound safety out of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, committed to play for the Spartans in September of 2016 as part of the 2018 recruiting class. He received offers from schools as Kentucky, Ole Miss, Wisconsin, and Iowa State, but chose to play for head coach Mark Dantonio. Henderson was ranked as the No. 313 overall player in his class, the No. 14 overall athlete, and the No. 10 overall player in the state of Ohio as well as a consensus four-star recruit by 247Sports.

Henderson made an impact early on in his Spartan career, playing a considerable amount of snaps his freshman year in 2018. He recorded 15 tackles as well as recovered a fumble in all 13 games. 

MSU safety Xavier Henderson during the second week of 2021 fall camp/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

In 2019, Henderson slid into a starting role, and finished second on the team with 83 tackles, along with six passes broken up and two interceptions. In the shortened 2020 season, Henderson started all seven games and recorded 41 tackles, good for third on the team. He had one pass break up. 

In 2021, Henderson enjoyed a breakout season, totaling 94 tackles, three sacks, 10 tackles for loss and one interception. He was named a captain for all 13 games this season, the only Spartan to hold that achievement. He also earned Third-Team All-Big Ten honors by the media and honorable mention All-Big Ten honors by the coaches. 

Overall, he has compiled 233 tackles, three interceptions and 13.5 tackles for loss in 46 career games. 

Henderson’s return maintains an integral piece of the Spartans’ defense. He leads all current Spartans in tackles and snaps played; Henderson will return to his starting strong safety position alongside sophomore Angelo Grose and Darius Snow.