Lincoln Riley decided more help was needed for the USC Trojans‘ defense.
The Trojans head coach had already plucked D’Anton Lynn away from the rival UCLA Bruins to run his defense. But now, Riley swooped up his newest assistant from another team nearby, the Los Angeles Rams. Eric Henderson boosts the USC defense following his arrival from the NFL.
Eric Henderson Lands on the USC Trojans Coaching Staff, but Who Is He?
“Hendo” gets named as co-defensive coordinator and the run game coordinator in the Land of Troy, with USC announcing his arrival on Monday.
Right time, right pLAce.
— USC Football ✌️ (@uscfb) January 15, 2024
The decision to hire Henderson comes less than 24 hours after the Rams were eliminated from the NFC playoffs by the Detroit Lions.
“I’m excited to welcome the final member of our defensive staff, Eric Henderson,” said Riley in a news release. “A Super Bowl Champion coach who has been recognized nationally for being the top in his field, Eric will bring immeasurable knowledge and experience to our program. We have put together a defensive staff that is second to none. We’re ready to get to work.”
Henderson treks further south to LA from Thousand Oaks with a ring on his finger. He was with Sean McVay, Raheem Morris, and company when the Rams snatched the 2021 season Super Bowl title by beating the Cincinnati Bengals.
He leaves the franchise after five seasons. He first arrived in 2019 and immediately impacted the run defense — producing a unit that surrendered just 3.74 yards per carry. “Hendo” didn’t just field stout run defenses, though.
His defensive line became largely responsible for the Rams ranking in the top five in sacks in 2019 and 2020. Aaron Donald became his most prized trench defender. However, Henderson created new trench stars next to the former Pittsburgh Panthers star.
2023 Season Produced “The Conductor” Under Henderson
Henderson proved he could produce more than Donald. He also helped create “The Conductor,” best known as fifth round find Kobie Turner.
The rookie out of Wake Forest ended up snatching nine sacks to lead the Rams in his first season in the NFL. Henderson helped add new hand moves to Turner’s toolbox in attacking offensive linemen while also placing him next to Donald.
But those schemes only freed up Turner, as the blocking attention went to Donald, which allowed the former Deacon Demon to wreak havoc. As a result, he emerged as a contender for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Outside of “The Conductor,” Bobby Brown III put together the best season of his young career with 31 total tackles, including 16 solo stops. Jonah Williams also benefitted from Henderson — producing career-best numbers across the board. Williams ended ’23 with 49 tackles, 20 solo stops, and four tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Henderson won’t be a novice to the college coaching game. USC marks his first CFB job since 2016 when he coached the defensive line for the UTSA Roadrunners. He was also a graduate assistant with the Oklahoma State Cowboys from 2013 to 2015.
Lastly, Henderson was a highly decorated defensive lineman for the Georgia Tech YellowJackets during his playing career. He earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors from 2003 to 2005 before taking his onfield skill set to the sideline.
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