ASU Football Coaching Profiles: DC Donnie Henderson

Donnie Henderson (Photo by Ralph Waclawicz/NFLPhotoLibrary)
Donnie Henderson (Photo by Ralph Waclawicz/NFLPhotoLibrary) /

New ASU defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson has nearly 40 years of coaching experience at both the college and pro levels.

That wealth of experience will surely come in handy as Henderson takes over the defensive side of the ball for ASU in 2022.

Getting his start as a graduate assistant at Utah State in 1983, the new ASU defensive coordinator has held close to twenty positions at both major universities and in the NFL.

Henderson even has some history with Arizona State. In 1992 he came on as a safeties coach and by 1995 was the defensive backs coach for the Sun Devils. He stayed with the team through 1997 and was there for the last Rose Bowl appearance in January of 1997 that ended in a heartbreaking 20-17 loss.

After a short stint at Houston, Henderson moved up into the ranks of the NFL and was named assistant defensive backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 1999. The very next year, he was promoted to defensive backs coach and oversaw the secondary of one of the most legendary defenses in NFL history, the 2000 Ravens.

Interestingly, Henderson’s first stint as a defensive coordinator was alongside his now head coach Herm Edwards in 2004 with the New York Jets. After Edwards was replaced by Eric Mangini after the 2005 season, Henderson was also let go. He found his next DC position with the Detroit Lions where he spent just one season.

After these brief stints at DC, Henderson returned to his defensive back roots and has held a variety of positions in the NFL and NCAA since 2006.

How will Henderson handle the ASU defense?

Henderson is a big proponent of a no-nonsense approach to football and wants his players to approach the game with a professional attitude. A mindset very similar to his once-again head coach Herm Edwards.

"“I want them to play football. Let’s control our emotions where we don’t get to the point where we become combative, and just be competitive.”Donnie Henderson, ASU Defensive Coordinator"

Inheriting a strong front seven from last season, there are many questions in the secondary for the ASU Sun Devils.

Luckily, that is the area in which Henderson truly shines and he should play an integral role in turning a position of weakness into one of strength.

With two starting corners and two starting safeties gone to either the draft or the transfer portal, Henderson will be working with a fresh group in the backfield that includes two transfer safeties, Chris Edmonds and Khoury Bethley, and one transfer corner, Ro Torrence.

How Henderson deals with the new faces and utilizes them in his defense will be crucial to the overall success of the 2022 ASU defense. Thankfully, defensive backs are his strength and the basis of nearly 40 years of experience in the football world.

While nothing is given, Henderson seems a good replacement for Antonio Pierce and we look forward to his success at ASU. Go Sun Devils!

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