USC Football: Eric Henderson’s Immediate Influence on the Defensive Line

USC Football Coach Eric Henderson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC Football‘s number one priority is to turn its defense around. One of the key additions to the defensive coaching staff in that effort was Eric Henderson, formerly the defensive line coach for the Los Angeles Rams. Henderson has already had an impact in recruiting, but now that spring camp has opened, his effect is being felt on the field as well.

Eric Henderson’s Instant Impact On USC Football

While addressing the media after spring camp practice, sophomore defensive end, Braylan Shelby described Henderson’s approach to coaching,

“I say on [he’s] point. He’s funny, but he gets right to it. If he don’t like what you’re doing, he gonna call you on it and he gonna make sure you understand what you’re doing. That’s really helping us all learn and get better.”

Shelby is one of the exciting young players on the USC defense. Last season, he compiled 18 tackles, four for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble as a true freshman. According to @USC_Nico, he has added 20 lbs to his weight this offseason. He is listed at 250 lbs on the USC Spring Roster.

What Shelby is Learning Under Henny

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California
Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; The Southern California Trojans SC logo at midfield at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Shelby went on to list the things he has learned from ‘Coach Henny’ so far, some things he’s never been taught before,

“I’ve learned so many new techniques. Even the way I line up, playing with my hand in the ground. Now that is actually comfortable. I learned the three technique for playing on the edge, playing with more of a base, have more pop when you get off the ball. He’s been teaching me some of the things I haven’t even known yet. That’s really helping me progress in my football career and becoming a better overall player.

When speaking to the Salute to Troy podcast, Henderson spoke on his passion for teaching the game, even at the basic level.

“Base fundamentals is what you really have to hone in on. Getting in a proper stance, understanding how utilize certain stances, and then you talk about the hands placement, then eye progression and then the violence that we need to have at the point of attack. Understanding the schematics of football. You know, you’re teaching these guys truly football, but at the end of the day, it was the exact same thing with the L. A rams like and in the NFL.”

What Shelby communicated after a few short days mirrors Eric Henderson’s description of how he coaches defensive linemen at all levels of the game.

NCAA Football: Southern California Spring Game
Apr 15, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans fans watch the Spring Game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports