Malik Henry, the nation’s top quarterback prospect in the 2016 class, trimmed his list of suitors to four finalists, via his Twitter account on Friday.
Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA will battle it out for the right to land the 5-star passer from Thousand Oaks, California.
One wildcard in his recruitment could be the fact that he’s a two-sport star who doubles as a standout pitcher at Westlake High School.
As Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation detailed recently, Henry said that while the quality of the baseball program of his eventual choice doesn’t matter, it is critical that the school gives its blessing for him to play both sports at the next level.
With that fact in mind, Jimbo Fisher’s track record with supporting dual-sport athletes may present the best situation for Henry to thrive on the gridiron and on the diamond in college.
The 6’3”, 180-pounder, who camped at Florida State last month, has taken notice of the success current Seminoles star quarterback Jameis Winston has had in Tallahassee in both sports.
"I just had my meeting with Coach Fisher and he told me that he loves two-sport athletes,” Henry mentioned to Elliott. “And he explained how he and [Mike Martin Jr.] are best friends. He has no problem with me playing baseball as long as I establish my position on the football team."
While the dual-sport athlete connection is a feather in the cap for Fisher, another element that could tip the scales in favor of FSU is the fact its offense is the most pro-friendly of Henry's final suitors.
“With Florida State, they probably have the most pro-style offensive approach of all his finalists,” said Yogi Roth—who worked out Henry at the Santa Monica Nike Football Training Camp in January. “I could see him playing there as well. They like playing from the shotgun and using three-wide receiver sets while still being able to run the ball.”
Roth, who also doubles as an analyst for Pac-12 Network, came away impressed with Henry’s potential as one of the nation’s most gifted passers in the 2016 class:
In the few times I’ve been around him, he’s always struck me as a guy who has had that laser-like focus. What coaches are looking for now at the college level is a kid who has the capability to do that. He clearly does. Then you look at his attributes and he’s off the charts with those. He can make every throw. He’s a dynamic athlete. He’s a high-level competitor. I think he’s a guy that loves to compete, and he loves to do whatever it takes to get better.
One potential deterrent for FSU is the fact that they have three commitments from top-rated quarterbacks in its 2015 class—with two of those coming from a pair of 4-star passers last week. However, Roth cautioned that each school’s depth chart shouldn’t factor in heavily to Henry’s choice.
“Every one of those places, he’s going to have an Elite 11 or an All-American quarterback in front of him,” Roth said. “All of those places are good at developing quarterbacks. He’s going to have to compete regardless of where he goes, and I don’t think that will be a problem for him.”
While each school has elements that are appealing to Henry, the Seminoles appear to present the strongest case in helping him thrive as a two-sport athlete in college.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.