EAST LANSING — Xavier Henderson clapped his hands loudly five times as he stepped to the stage, bringing the room to attention.
Michigan State football’s senior safety and only player to be a captain every week this season clearly heard the noise from former Michigan players all week. And after the seventh-ranked Spartans rallied Saturday to beat the No. 6 Wolverines, 37-33, Henderson talked his own trash to the former U-M players who were most vocal this week and historically.
He singled out four of them: former running back and current assistant coach Mike Hart, former defensive end Chase Winovich, former offensive lineman Taylor Lewan and former wide receiver Braylon Edwards. And Henderson delivered a fiery message directed at them.
“Yes, sir! What they talking about now, huh? What they talking about now?” Henderson barked in the postgame interview room as he sat down behind a microphone. “It sounded good. It sounded good before the game.
“Thanks, Mike Hart — Coach D (Mark Dantonio) said it’ll never be over; it’s still not over. Thanks, Winovich Thanks, Lewan Thanks, Braylon Edwards. I bet you know Chuck Brantley’s name now, don’t you? It sounded good, but I don’t know what they’re talking about now.”
A native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Henderson is playing in his fourth game in the rivalry. He made seven tackles and had one pass breakup, with a couple bone-jarring hits.
Though he singled out the former players — Hart and Winovich from their time as players after their final wins over MSU, Lewan and Edwards for their comments this week in the media — Henderson also made sure to compliment the Wolverines he went against throughout Saturday’s game. And he said there was plenty of talking on the field, just not much of it this week from the two teams.
“We don’t got much to say. There’s not much to say, you know,” Henderson said. “We’ll see what they’re talking about on the field. And they were talking about some stuff. They came out, and they’re good. Eric All, I watched him on film and he was bringing it on all of his blocks, so I knew I had to bring it in. And so I brought, and I tried to let him know. Q (Quavaris Crouch) was letting them know a little bit, ‘Hey, we’re gonna bring it.’ But he brought it, too. He was talking a little bit, I was talking a little bit. But it wasn’t too much before the game, not that I know. But that’s not what we’re about.”
Henderson also sounded like a player who plans to be turning pro next year and not playing in this rivalry again.
“And thanks, Spartan Nation, for being out there and sticking with us through the game while we were down,” Henderson said in his opening statement. “They stayed with us. I didn’t see anybody leave, so we appreciate y’all from the bottom of our hearts.
“I’m done with my spiel.”
In the history of this rivalry, though, the lore of Henderson’s postgame comments most likely is just getting started.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State’s Xavier Henderson: What will ex-Wolverines say now?