CRESTVIEW — Tyler Henderson has been making big plays for the Crestview football team since the first game of his freshman year in August of 2009. It might have only been a preseason Kickoff Classic against Gulf Breeze, but it didn’t take long for Henderson to make his presence known as he intercepted a Dolphin pass and returned it for a touchdown.
He’s been making plays for the Bulldogs ever since as a defensive back, return specialist and punter. He’s even played a little running back and quarterback when needed.
Henderson’s next first game will be as college freshman against the University of Miami for Florida Atlantic University. Henderson signed his National-Letter of Intent to play for the Owls on Wednesday in a ceremony in the Crestview High School auditorium.
Henderson wasn’t the only Bulldog football player that signed Wednesday. Crestview running Micah Reed signed with the University of Central Florida and linebacker/defensive back Justin Rebholz signed with the Division III United States Coast Guard Academy.
Crestview head football coach and athletic director Kevin Pettis said each of the players have their own skill sets that make each special.
“I think Micah brings a durability that he is going to be able to carry the ball 30 or 40 times a game,” Pettis said. “And I think Tyler brings an explosiveness to a team. And I think Rebby brings stability.
“He may not always make the flashiest plays, but he’s always there. If you start counting tackles, he’s always going to be around the ball.”
Henderson, who also hopes to play baseball for the Owls had 82 tackles, four interceptions and seven tackles for loss from his safety position. No slouch in the classroom, he had offers from Duke, Vanderbilt and the United States Naval Academy before picking Florida Atlantic.
“I feel like everything happens for a reason and FAU came calling on me at the right time and that’s where I’m meant to be,” he said. “I just love the game and I love learning new things about the game every day.
“When coach (Pete) Rekstis (FAU defensive coordinator and secondary coach) came here and taught me the defense you could tell he knew everything there was to know about the game and I hope he passes that on to me.”
Henderson admits his football is his first love, but the added opportunity to possibly play baseball as well was just the icing on the cake.
“That (the baseball) just sweetened the deal,” he said. “To be able to go down there and continue both of my careers just makes it that much better.
“Having a shot at both of them gives me a better shot at making it (to the pros) in one of them.”
Like Henderson, Rebholz has enjoyed success on both the diamond and the football field, but he’ll strictly be a one-sport athlete at the Coast Guard Academy.
Rebholz also had an opportunity to attend the Air Force Academy, but he felt the Coast Guard Academy offered him the best opportunities athletically, academically and in his military career.
“I had a choice between Air Force and Coast Guard and Coast Guard really is going to pay off for me in the long run,” he said. “I can pick my job after I graduate and I’m always going to be on a coast in the United States. I’ll never be stationed out in the middle of nowhere.
“I’ll never go to war and I’ll always be in a beautiful port city. And it’s like a 97 percent job satisfaction in the Coast Guard.”
As a linebacker and defensive back Rebholz was in on 130 tackles for Crestview last season, but he said he’ll get a first look on offense when football practice starts at the academy.
“They told me I could start off playing any position I wanted,” he said. “I asked them about running back, linebacker, corner, safety. They said wherever you want to go you pick.
“They said if we need you in another position, we are going to move you there, but I think starting out I’m going to go out and try running back.”
There is no doubt that Reed will be a running back at Central Florida. At times this season he was the Crestview offense as rushed for more than 1,600 yards. Add another 900 plus yards he gained his junior year and Reed easily gained close to 2,600 yards in his two years as the Bulldog starting tailback.
With numbers like that he should come as no surprise that he had the opportunity to attend other schools. He had offers on the table from the University of Mississippi and the University of Kentucky, but at the end of the day he felt Central Florida offered everything he wanted.
“I’m feeling really excited right now,” Reed said. “I’m so overwhelmed with joy because it’s just a new start for me. I felt like it was the best fit for me of all the teams that offered me a scholarship,
“I just felt like it was really home when I went down there for my visit. I feel like I can play a big part on offense.”
Reed said he enjoyed the recruiting process for the most part and he learned some things about himself along the way.
“It was fun, but then it was tiring and frustrating,” he said. “You are going back and forth deciding which way is the best way. But it was a fun experience and it just taught me a lot and showed me a lot in decision making.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524